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.
Any Sport, Any Race, Anywhere!
$150,000 in funds raised as 90 members of Team IA cross the finish line benefitting Imerman Angels’ mission to enable 1-on-1 cancer support for cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers
Congratulations, Team Imerman Angels, for completing the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We believe that every fundraising page created, jersey worn while training, and each individual informed of the Imerman Angels mission helps raise awareness to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.
Our marathon weekend began with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Health and Fitness Expo at McCormick Place Convention Center. Guests were invited to browse more than 200 exhibitors of marathon apparel, footwear, and latest fitness technology. On Saturday evening, Team Imerman Angels members and their families were invited to enjoy a protein-packed pasta dinner at Bongiorno’s courtesy of Imerman Angels.
Team Imerman Angels, headed by first time marathon runner and head of Team IA recruiting Khitam Masoud, was comprised of 90 members from all over the United States and beyond. Masoud, a two-time cancer survivor, first decided to run with Imerman Angels last year when she met Israel Antonio, a blind athlete who runs for various organizations. His determination to overcome challenges inspired Khitam to train hard and cross the finish line in support of Imerman Angel’s cause.
Team Imerman Angels runners who participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon include: Matthew Abeles, Jessica Alger, Israel Antonio, Shilpa Anturkar, James Auste, Lisa Baranuska, Christina Bayer, Suzanne Blaising, Danielle Blount, Adam Callans, Michael Camerano, Prashant K Chawla, Isabel Chung, Brianne M Connolly, Pascale Dargis, Katie Donnewald, James R Escobar, Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Caroline Frost, Sean Gallagher, Heidi H. Gerhardt, Nicholas Gow, Christopher J. Hemzacek, Samantha J. Herink, Eric S Horng, Heather A. Hoskin, Brennan Hughes, Becky Ives, Daniel Jacobsen, Andrew D. Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Courtney Joseph, Mergim Kacija, Lysee Kaye, Christopher M. Klotz, Kimberly Koetter, Beth A. Kosar, Kristen Kostka, Daniel Krueger, Arlena Larocca, David S. Lautenbach, Helen M. Liggett, Ted A. Liggett, Matthew F. Logan, Sean Mansfield, Tyler Mansfield, Stacie Marshall, Khitam Masoud, Brandan Mccanna, Allison Mecher, Michael P Minogue, Paul T. Minogue, Mike Moreau, Kerry Morris, Aaron Mulvaney, Janelle Myers, Jonathon Nagle, Catherine Napier, Andy Nesheim, Michael Nickes, Gabrielle Niewinski, Grant A Niewinski, Hector Nunez, Devlin O’Connor, Erick N. Perez, Jessica Perez, Christopher Pilat, Jennifer Pilat, Eli Polites, Deanna Poneman, Todd M. Rubin, Lidsay Rufa, Mary Sanders, Richard Schad, Jay Schiesser, Tony Schirmang, Jennifer Shulkin, Brent Smyth, Anne Marie Stephen, Timothy Swindle, Kaleb Taylor, Coree K. Thomas, Cheryl A. Trace, Stacey L. Vallarta, Laura Walker, Kevin J. Ware, Stephanie Wedel, Bobby Weil, Sarah Werner, David M. Wolf, Kathleen G. Yagihashi, and Lynn M. Yakoweshen.
Factor 75, a healthy meal delivery service, was waiting at the finish line to feed all the hungry members of Team IA a protein packed meal.
Coming up, Team Imerman Angels will be participating in the Hot Chocolate 15/5K run in Grant Park on November 3 as well as the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in April 2014.
In case you missed out on the Imerman Angel’s Annual Tuxes and Tee’s Fundraiser or are curious as to what took place during the VIP hours of the evening, have a look at this inspirational speech given by our newest member of the Board of Directors, Nimesh Jhaveri. He is the executive director of pharmacy and healthcare experience of Walgreens and is the holder of four federal patents in pharmacy technology and methodology. Nimesh has also played an integral role in Walgreen’s new corporate sponsorship with Imerman Angels. We cannot thank him enough for his support and are very excited to have him on board!
It is an amazing honor to be here … to welcome all of you … and to thank all of you for supporting
Imerman’s Angels – past, present and we hope, in the future. Most of all, it’s a great honor to join in paying tribute to our cancer fighters, survivors, caregivers and supporters.
The late Italian writer, actor and director Luciano De Crescenzo … pardon my Italian … once expressed an insight about angels. And what he said has special meaning for me tonight. He said, “We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can only fly by embracing one another.” [repeat for emphasis] … We can only fly by embracing one another …. What a beautiful way of looking at life – and all of its challenges – and all of the chances that life brings to fly together.
That’s the whole point of Imerman’s Angels, of course. The incredible power of one-on-one. It’s also something that I think about a lot in my profession. As a pharmacist, like most healthcare professionals, I was trained in medicine. But I was also fortunate to have professors and colleagues who emphasized the power of one-on-one. You can call it “bedside manner.” Or if you’re a healthcare systems consultant, you can call it “optimal human engagement leveraging emotional intelligence.” Or something like that. Whatever you call it, the value of embracing one another in healthcare and recovery is hard to quantify.
That’s a problem in today’s healthcare system, when everyone is trying to put a cost-benefit analysis on everything. That makes sense when healthcare needs and costs continue to balloon.
But what’s the dollar value when someone is there for you? I mean, really THERE for you. Someone who listens to you … hears you … “gets” you … gets your pain … gets your fear … or even just knows when to leave you alone. Because sometimes even angels don’t feel like flying. The point is, even though it’s hard to quantify the value of the one-on-one, that does not mean it lacks value. Sometimes you can’t put a price on something simply because it’s priceless.
To press the point, let me read from an article posted by an association of physician’s assistants. … As a sidebar, let me say, in my humble view, physician’s assistants are the unsung heroes of the medical profession. … They’re the healthcare providers that my company, Walgreens, is anxiously counting on to help us deliver convenient and affordable community healthcare.
… And I know, first hand, from working with these women and men, they are – excuse my language – freaking amazing people. No ego. All care. Pure angels. I’m generalizing, but it’s true. Their article is titled, “The Psychological Importance of Bedside Manner, Trust, and Teamwork.” It’s from July of this year. It says:
“Technology is changing the world of medicine in drastic ways every day. New diagnostic tools, laser therapies, and an ever-increasing arsenal of pharmaceuticals help doctors deliver innovative answers to age-old problems. But some old-fashioned values are becoming lost in the mix of modern technology, especially bedside manner, trust, and teamwork. The human touch has profound psychological value to a patient, especially someone suffering from an acute or terminal condition. While modern tools can monitor his condition and advanced therapies offer a patient more hope than ever, patients today feel increasingly lost in the healthcare system. A good bedside manner, trust, and teamwork encourage the patient to interact with those taking care of him, and increase participation in his own care.”
I agree. And my company, Walgreens, takes that concept to heart. It’s what our pharmacies are all about. The
human interaction. In fact, in our cutting-edge Well Experience stores, we’ve moved the pharmacist out from behind the
counter, out into the store, to engage patients, in person, on their healthcare needs. One on one.
It reminds me of that old Seinfeld routine, where he says, “Why does that pharmacist have to be two and a half feet higher than everybody else? Who the hell is this guy?” Good question. So we’re breaking down the pharmacy wall and putting the pharmacist out in the store. You can see for yourself at our flagship stores over on State and Randolph or in Bucktown. There’s a simple reason why Walgreens embraces the power of the one-on-one in healthcare. And why we’re fighting the notion by some bean-counters that community pharmacies can be replaced by robots putting pills in bottles and sending them through the mail.
Why are we so hot about the one-on-one? Once again – human interaction leads to better care. Let me illustrate by looking at “medication adherence” – the term we use for whether people follow their prescriptions as directed. So they can get better. Live better. Or live longer. You’d be amazed by how many otherwise responsible people don’t take their medicine. In fact, medication NON-adherence costs the healthcare system almost three billion dollars a year in needless services. That includes the cost of people going to the hospital or emergency room. That’s three billion dollars wasted because people did not take their medicine. And that’s wasted money we can recover … and harness to deliver more care to more people … if we could just get people to get on track and stay on track.
Sure, we can fire-hose people with information about their healthcare needs, options, and care choices. We can email them. Snail-mail them. Send them to our websites. Leave them voice mails. Text them. We have all kinds of ways now to contact patients to remind them to take their pills. We do it all. But nothing – nothing – beats the old one-on-one. Nothing beats the human interaction with the pharmacist to promote adherence.
Let me give you one proof point. Walgreens recently sponsored a study to learn about what happens when people DO take their medicine. We looked at statin-takers – you know, people with high cholesterol who can lower their chance of heart attack or stroke if they just take a little white pill every day with breakfast. We found that new statin-takers who had face-to-face counseling with their pharmacist about their regimen increased their adherence by more than a 7 percent. Compared to patients without one-on-one counseling.
Now, 7 percent might not sound like a lot. But if your 401K had been returning 7 percent a year for the past 10 years, you would be pretty happy about that, right? We’re lucky if we get half that. So when it comes to the power of one-on-one … the power of personal connection and interaction …even if it’s hard to quantify … maybe the healthcare system is catching up to a concept that Imerman’s Angels has known all along. And you’re built on. That’s a big reason why Walgreens supports Imerman’s Angels. Our missions dovetail perfectly. Yes, like you, Walgreens also wants people to get well. Stay well. And live well. Yes, like you, we also help cancer fighters and caregivers, through our growing in-home infusion services. Yes, like you, we stand with the thousands of cancer fighters and survivors and supporters on the Walgreens team across the country. Our team is almost a quarter of a million people. Probably over a million when you count family members. And yes, like all of you, we want to help cancer fighters become survivors. And help cancer survivors help other fighters. We believe in the concept of the “virtuous circle.” And we’re working on programs to help cancer survivors to become “angels” for other cancer fighters.
So Walgreens finds it a privilege to be a corporate sponsor of Imerman’s Angels. And it’s a point of humble pride for me to have the chance to serve on the Board of Directors. Rest assured: Walgreens will be promoting the service you provide to our patients and customers in the near future. And we could not be happier to provide this support. That’s because our whole company … our bone-marrow ethos for more than 100 years … and our purpose, vision and mission to this day … have been founded on – we’re driven by – a sense that we all fly by embracing one another.
To close on that note, let me share a fun factoid. Today, September 28, is the birthday of Paul Villard, the French chemist and physicist. He was born on this day in the year 1860. Doctor Villard gets a lot of credit for discovering the gamma ray in 1900.
He discovered this new force of nature as he was messing around with atoms and particles and other nuclear stuff. Stuff I don’t remember from my physics classes. But if you Google it, you see that gamma rays have given us incredible breakthroughs in cancer treatment. Cancer doctors have used gamma rays to kill bad cells before they kill us. And if you’ve had surgery, gamma rays might have sterilized the scalpel your surgeon used to cut you open and fix your problem. Doctor Villard, naturally, didn’t know he would save millions of lives with his discovery. But that’s not the best part of the story. The best part is that Doctor Villard was pretty modest, especially by today’s standards. He didn’t call his discovery the “Villard Ray.” Later on, it was another physicist, Ernest Rutherford, who suggested the name “gamma ray.” The new ray was more penetrating than alpha rays and beta rays. Alpha and beta were the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. Gamma was the third. There you go – “gamma ray.”
The point is that Doctor Villard, who discovered amazing new force of nature, didn’t make his discovery about himself.
He didn’t seem to care about being famous. He just seemed to care about advancing human discovery. And he did. He sounds pretty much like an angel to me. All of you here are angels. All of you give more than you want credit for. And we’re all here because we believe that science and medicine are unstoppable forces. Forces that give from humankind. For humankind. But only because of angels like you. In my humble aspiration, I hope that we can continue to fly together, as angels do, by embracing one another. Here tonight. And as long as we live.
Thank you. Oh – and one more thing. Please – if you have a prescription – please take it as directed!
Have a great evening.
Live your life without regrets. There is no time to waste!
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In order to get better acquainted with the amazing people here at Imerman Angels, each week I’m going to highlight and celebrate a different member of our community. This week I want you to meet Jackie Herigodt. She is a 37-year-old single mom who has been a brilliant caregiver and apart of the Imerman Angels community for one year. Jackie, thank you for your friendship and incredible work!
“I first became a caregiver to my grandmother when I was 13 years old. She was diagnosed with “cancer” one minute and the next she was this person I did not recognize. I spent at least 3 days a week with her cute, smiley, chubby, rosy cheek grandma face for most of my life and then I found out that she was sick. I had to take several busses to see her. The first visit to the hospital- I will never forget. I nearly fainted. It was this woman of no color and just skin and bones. I fell to the ground while she slept so that she would not see or hear my reaction of tears. We were there everyday, I started skipping school to be with her. I would bring her food in my backpack from home thinking if I made her meals she would eat and gain the weight back with her favorite honey and butter sandwiches. I would brush her hair and put makeup on her daily. I would read to her and try to make her laugh. My sister and I spent lots of time just sitting next to her bed talking about our memories. With her final breath, my sister holding one hand and I, holding the other, I felt the first loss of a caregiver.
My mother, the same woman who lost her father, mother, brother and eventually her sister to cancer, was like a chimney. From the age of 12- she smoked cigarettes. I warned her a million and fourteen times to stop smoking. I drafted out a contract for her to sign after my aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was detailed with the sucker pouch amount of how much money she would save a year- if she stopped. Nine years ago, when my daughter was only 4 months old, my mother was diagnosed with Oat lung cancer. Not entirely shocked but still upset and hit with the whirlwind of thoughts. I lived in California at the time, how was I going to do this? I tried to do the long distance caregiving with talking to the Dr’s. on the phone but that did not work. Fortunately, I worked for the airlines at that point, my company was amazing. My sister and a few other family members, really stepped up to the plate as well. My daughter and I basically moved back to Chicago for that time. Once I did, it was Dr. appointments, hospital stays, back home and hospice. It was runs to Walgreen’s pharmacy, arguing with oncologists, and dealing with healthcare staff with very little bedside manner. It was no sleep, taking care of my baby and my mother at the same time. I was married at the time and arguing with my daughter’s father about me getting back “home” to California. It was overwhelmingly stressful. If it were not for my sister and brother in law, I don’t know what would have happened. One day, while in chemo,my mom started touching my hair. She said, it was beautiful and she wished that she had hair again. I told her that I would cut it off and have a wig made of it for her. My poor mother only lived 2 and a half months after that. I have donated my hair a total of 6 times since then and my daughter has donated her hair twice.
In 2008, I was miserable that I was away from my family knowing my Aunt was struggling again with cancer. She was not going to recover from this one. My sister called me with updates and I would call my aunt nearly everyday. She would always request that I bring the “baby” to see her because she knew she would make her feel better. It was a battle right from the beginning, I was the one working, how could I go? After months, and daily arguments, I left with my daughter to be with my aunt in her final days. I am so thankful for our last moments. It is an awakening experience when you begin to spoon feed a woman that spoon fed you. She passed a few days after I returned to California.
Most recently, I helped my best friend with her mother’s passing from breast cancer. Being that I have gone through the experience of losing loved ones as much as I have. I felt that I could use my knowledge for her benefit. I visited her mom quite often and when her final days came, I suggested the hospice services to be called be the one that we used for my mother. I did the initial research to help the family. I was happy that I could actually help her in her dark times.
My RELAY FOR LIFE experience has provided so much to me and to my daughter. I can not say that is has been all joyous but it absolutely has been healing. I have met many wonderful friends and have heard so many stories. It has allowed me the strength to talk about cancer and my experiences without crying. It has given me the means to feel that I am making a difference in the fight against cancer. It has given my daughter a way to feel that she is making her Grandmother proud. It has given me the methods to talk to people that have lost someone and ask the right questions. The RELAY FOR LIFE could not have a better title because once you RELAY, you are in it for LIFE. It has given me the opportunity to be introduced to Imerman Angels.”
Why do I love being at Imerman Angels? The office culture is amazing. We have a great crew. It is like family! A whole staff of survivors and me, the caregiver! Everyday is such an up and down roller coaster because I can talk to one person and feel so sad for them and their situation and the next person I speak with can be such an inspiring story to provide me with hope again. My goal for every call is to try to make the person on the end at least giggle. This is one of the worst times in their lives, it’s my opportunity to provide them a second of joy. The matching of people is the best! The feeling that I get when I hear that the people are happy with their match. The relief in their voice or their emotions that are expressed via email showing their appreciation. The mission that no one should face cancer alone can be reached. So every new mentor angel or caregiver mentor angel that registers with us- excites me.