I hope this message finds you well. My name is Brian Hastings and I have been appointed the new writer for Imerman Angels cancer blog. I greet you with the warmest of welcomes as I set out to motivate, educate, and inspire through words and action. The path I am on now is paved with those exact intentions, although it has not always been that way. You see, for nearly the past two years, I sat in an office working a nine to five job as a graphic designer. The stress was high and the deadlines were tight, but at twenty-five, I thought that was necessary to succeed in the industry. I kept up with that pattern, as I had for most of my life; go-go-go, until December 2012 when my body said no more. I spent New Year’s Eve enduring a series of scans. My worst fears were soon confirmed. You have cancer…
I was diagnosed with stage 3 advanced testicular cancer and two months to live. In the next five days I was wheeled into my first-ever surgery. Blood tests revealed that my tumor markers had soared well beyond three hundred thousand; the highest my nurse said she had ever seen. Normal levels are below ten. These guys needed to work fast and I was beyond determined. What was expected to be an outpatient procedure took a bit of a twist. Sitting twenty pounds lighter, I spent the next seven days in the hospital receiving immediate chemotherapy. This process continued on for three months and was known for being one of the most nauseating regimens on the market. However, because of a strict, organic, vegetarian diet which consisted of loads of juicing, the best positive attitude, and the most incredible family and friends, my nurse said I was the first she had seen to never get sick from treatment. It’s all a mental game. Positivity is a majority of the battle. You’re body will heal if you believe it will and allow it to do so. The power of intention is amazing! Nonetheless, this was a major accomplishment for me as I have always had deep roots in holistic sensibilities. This was proof that there is true magic in nature and the results have opened up so many doors. As I sit in remission, I’ll be starting school in the fall to pursue my masters in holistic medicine and soon, one day obtain my Ph.D. Health and wellness is my passion and it is now my time to give back and help others heal as I continue to heal myself. I’m so grateful for these opportunities and will continue to follow my instincts down the road to happiness. Keep smiling, stay well, and remember “Life is 10% what happens to you & 90% how you react to it.”
All the best,
The cancer community is full of stories of fighters that overcome even the greatest challenges, and our Programs Manager, Jemma, is no exception. First diagnosed with cancer at the age of 23, and again for the second time at 24, Jemma rose to the challenge and beat both by the age of 25. You could say she was her own “healer” in the process, using her own stem cells to save her life through an Autologus Stem Cell Transplant.
Her battle left her stronger, not weaker, which is clear to see through her previous work. She has dedicated her life to cancer advocacy. Jemma began her work as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society for 9 years. There she has contributed in several ways from bringing passion to the organization through meeting with political leaders about cancer issues to speaking at various events. A champion for life, Jemma confided that the organization was meaningful enough to her that she wrote them into her will.
In 2007, Jemma met Jonny at an Imerman Angels event, and the rest is history! She became a Mentor Angel in 2009, sharing her experience with other cancer fighters through 1-on-1 support relationships, then became a full time staff member in 2011. Managing 6-12 volunteers and staff members, she works around the clock to promote the mission of Imerman Angels while doing her best to give back to the cancer community.
Like we find with many of the cancer survivors in our community, strength, courage, and perseverance seem to be written into Jemma’s DNA. When she is not spending time with her 12 year old son, who she raises as a single parent, she enjoys staying active. 14,000 mountain climbs, 2 half marathons, 2 sprint triathlons, 3 stair climbs, multiple running competitions, whitewater kayaking and CrossFit are just a few things that Jemma has already accomplished.
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!
Core Value # 3: Never let fundraising distract us from our mission
Of course we graciously and gladly accept donations! However, we believe it’s most important to dedicate our time, energy, and resources to our mission.
At Imerman Angels, we want to stay focused on what’s really important in the work that we do: making connections. We’re able to do this with help from fantastic supporters, like our friends at AKTA Web Studio, who recently donated the proceeds from a trivia night to benefit personalized 1-on-1 cancer support.
Below is a message written by Pascale from AKTA:
“How much can something intangible like hope, faith or optimism be worth? For a cancer patient, these can be invaluable–life saving even. Imerman Angels is an inspiring organization that wants to make these intangibles procurable for cancer patients. John Roa, head wizard at AKTA web studio, has witnessed this first-hand as his family member faced the fight against duodenal cancer years ago and will never forget the impact a social network, mentor and friends made. All over the world individuals have to fight the horrors of cancer, but Imerman Angels ensures they won’t have to go at it alone.
We are a UX/UI strategy and design startup company based in Chicago and have been blown away on so many occasions by how such a huge place can seem so small. Everyone is always so ready and willing to lend a hand (or two), share experiences, offer help, create connections and come together. We decided it was time to give back to the community, so we invited a subset of Chicago’s tech and web thought leaders and friends to join us in a friendly game of trivia. Our only hope was to fill a room with great people, educate them about an irreplaceable cause and have fun. With every attendee’s donation matched by AKTA, a fun night of trivia helped to ensure that the Imerman Angels service remains completely free to those in need–we LOVE that.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support the cause and thanks to Imerman Angels for being so fantabulous to coordinate with. We hope this is the first of many Pascale and AKTA team.”
We’re so happy to have had the opportunity to work together with AKTA and are thankful for their continued support!
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Imerman Angels is a cancer support nonprofit organization that creates personalized connections between cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers. We at Imerman Angels are only able to achieve our mission because we have so many dedicated individuals who support us by donating, volunteering, spreading awareness and much more!
For one day each year, people from all over the world come together in support of charities and causes they are passionate about. That day this year is May 4, so in honor of World Give Day we challenge you to take these simple steps to help an organization or a cause you care about.
- Write or blog about a charity you love to inform your friends and followers about it too.
- Follow nonprofit organizations on your social media pages.
- Volunteer for a fun charitable event with friends and family.
- Organize an online or third party event in benefit of a local nonprofit organization.
- Check an online nonprofit calendar and attend one of their benefit events with your friends.
- Participate in a run or walk to support a cause.
- Donate to a local charity with a mission you support.
These are just a few of the many ways you can support a nonprofit organization in your community. Each donation, no matter how small, contributes greatly to the success of an organization. For more ideas on how you can support an organization visit www.imermanangels.org/support-us.php.
This article is part of a series organized by GiveForward. To learn more, visit their website at www.giveforward.com.
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