We had an emotional, but joyful day at the Imerman Angels office yesterday, December 3. Long time cancer fighter, mentor angel and dear friend of founder Jonny Imerman, Jennifer Smith, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the young age of 30. At the time of her diagnosis, Jen was a new mother to now seven-year-old Corbin. She turned her negative news into a source of deep motivation and began working closely with Imerman Angels.
In addition to her work as a mentor angel, Jen mentored young women with breast cancer as a founding member and organizer of the local Champaign-Urbana Affiliate Chapter of the Young Survivor Coalition. Everything Jen was involved with was dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness in young women.
Because of Jen’s dedication and strength as a mother and in her fight against breast cancer, Jen was selected as one of eight women to be awarded for her inspiration by the Kids II foundation Pink Power Mom program in 2013. Kids II is a small family owned corporation that creates children’s toys. When they started receiving an overwhelming amount of letters from mothers stating how thankful they were for their products that kept their children occupied during their breast cancer treatment, Kids II took action.
Around Mother’s Day every year nominations are sent to the Pink Power Mom program from across the country for courageous mothers who suffer from breast cancer that are making a difference in their community. Each year, the eight winners are flown to Atlanta for a spa weekend and are presented with a check to give to a non-profit of their choice.
Earlier this year, Jen’s breast cancer came back strong. She fought hard until the end, but passed away in late September. Yesterday, Heidi Floyd, the Executive Director of Pink Power Mom, Jen’s mother, Nancy Arnold and Jen’s sister Sara joined us at the Imerman Angels office for Jen’s check presentation. We were all saddened that Jen wasn’t with us, but it was her wish that the donation be made to Imerman Angels. This $5,000 check is the first of five donations, which will be awarded once a year.
For more information on Pink Power Moms, visit pinkpowermom.com.
With the 2012 Team Imerman fundraising up and running, we wanted to take a moment to share the story of one of Team Imerman’s runners.
At the age of 31, John Crowley was diagnosed and treated for a tumor in his lung. John was lucky enough to undergo a successful surgery that removed the tumor, which resulted in his recovery and four year remission.
While John was fortunate enough to have great family and friends support him during his battle with cancer, he wishes he would’ve had someone to talk who had been going through the same thing.
“After working in the oncology industry for over 10 years and contacting doctors all over the country, I couldn’t find one person who had experienced the same type of cancer that I had,” John recalls.
This is why John feels strongly about the mission of Imerman Angels. He recognizes the need for cancer patients to be able to connect with others who have gone down the same path and survived. With this mission in mind, John is inspired to raise money and run with Team Imerman.
On February 11, 2012 John celebrated his fourth year of remission by wearing the Team Imerman jersey and competing in “The Toughest Event on the Planet”, the Tough Mudder Race in Atlanta.
John’s positive attitude and efforts to give back are what make him the perfect advocate for Imerman Angels and we are proud to have him on our team!
The mind is a powerful force. This year, Brain Tumor Awareness Month reminded us of one man in the brain tumor community who shows just how powerful, especially in times of adversity, the mind can be.
Eric Galvez considers himself to be a ‘mAss kicker’:
1. Someone who gets an intimidating diagnosis, hears the words,
“we found a mass in your _____ (insert important body structure here),” and
refuses to let it control their life.
After being diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor, Eric underwent surgery and radiation therapy. When it was time to begin several months of rehabilitation, Eric got into the ‘mAss kicking’ mindset and prepared himself to take on any obstacles and physical impairments he might face – and he did it with vigor.
On top of never missing a single appointment, Eric continuously asked his physical therapists to schedule extra meetings. While requiring almost total assistance in nearly everything he did post-operation and radiation, Eric assured his doctors that, one day, he would surf again.
It was during his time in rehabilitation that Eric recognized the power that his brain had over all of his physical limitations.
“A brain tumor is not necessarily a ‘death sentence’.
Part of me was reborn with a new attitude that said,
Eric’s new “Why not?” outlook on life didn’t remain his alone. His mindset and perseverance spread to everyone with whom he came into contact, impressing even doctors who said that Eric, “challenges you; he motivates you; he takes you to another level.”
Eric Galvez is proof that, “The only thing limiting yourself is yourself.” As a ‘mAss Kicking’ leader in the brain tumor community, Eric inspires us to know that we “can accomplish anything that you really want to” – all we have to do is put our minds to it.
As Brain Tumor Awareness Month comes to an end, pass this video and Eric’s message along to three people you know who are affected by brain cancer, and keep spreading hope for other mAss kickers out there…long after the month has passed.
Much like Jonny Imerman, the founder of Imerman Angels, Eric Galvez knows the immeasurable impact that results from one person sharing knowledge and inspiration with someone else who is experiencing the unknowns of cancer. Check out the website on his organization, mAss Kickers, for more info: http://masskickers.org/
Our mission here at Imerman Angels is to provide PERSONALIZED connections that enable one-on-one support among cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers. Jonny Imerman truly touched many people with his survival story. It captured our hearts and enabled us to do the same to many others around the world.
What we do here at Imerman Angels is uniquely match cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers to anyone seeking cancer support. We like to call them “Mentor Angels” who are walking, talking, living proof, and inspiration that cancer can be beaten—just like Jonny Imerman himself.
Jim Higley, also known as: Bobblehead Dad, is a writer, speaker, life observer, and cancer warrior. Jim is well respected here at Imerman Angels and one of our greatest supporters!
Please take the time to read his article on Manofthehouse.com. It’s a story of how Imerman Angels began and an awareness of Testicular cancer, which according to his article impacts 8, 500 men every year ages 15-35 in our country.
Be Aware and Help kick cancer to the curb!!
“I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve been there. I beat it. And you can too.”
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I came across the blog of one of our mentor angels/volunteers, Jemma, who shared her story about how she became involved with Imerman Angels. Jemma is a two time cancer survivor. She now lives an active life, participating in athletic events for the charities that she supports. Read about this, her experience with our partner charity First Descents, and her cancer survivor story at IAMJEM.