This past Wednesday, we were able to make a great connection between two caregivers. A 23 year old woman, living in Kansas registered with us because her Mom is currently fighting inflammatory breast cancer. She’s been having some complications and wanted to connect with another young woman in her 20s who had a Mom survive inflammatory breast cancer. I was able to reach out to one of our amazing daughter-caregivers who is 25 years old, lives right here in Chicago and has a lot of insight about how to care for her Mom who already beat inflammatory breast cancer nearly 3 years ago! The two young woman are now connected, sharing stories, tips, tricks advice and inspiration to one another!
We made a pretty remarkable connection yesterday!
Not only did “Jane” call us from California fighting DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) breast cancer but she was also a liver transplant recipient (unrelated to cancer). She registered with IA hoping to meet another breast cancer survivor and thought that it would be a long-shot to have the opportunity to meet another BC survivor who also had some sort of organ transplant prior to cancer. After I had a great conversation with Jane, we looked in our network of nearly 2,500 ”Mentor Angels” and found her the perfect match. We introduced Jane to another woman living here in Illinois who not only survived DCIS breast cancer but she’s also a triple organ transplant recipient! Yes, triple! Before her diagnosis, she had a liver, heart and kidney transplant! This woman has an amazing testimonial to say the least. To top it off, the survivor’s name also happens to be “Jane!”
Terry Gillespie is a superstar among our mentor Angels. While being diagnosed with stage IIIB carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, she did not let the diagnoses bring her down. Not only did she beat it, but she did so with an enthusiasm and passion rarely found in any individual. She has dedicated most of her time to be a mentor angel and helps others after their initial diagnosis and through their treatments.
With only one lung, she bowls several times a week and loves to swim. According to Terry, she “doesn’t really swim, she bobs”
Terry is a shining example of energy, compassion, vivaciousness and love all wrapped up in one. She does her best to personally visit her pair-ups if she can. She has visited fighters in Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, often sending beautiful crystal and pearl survivor bracelets to the women she mentors. She tells the fighters that she paired up with “if you can’t cry with me, who are you going to cry with” She truly believes that no one can really understand what you’re going through more than someone who has been there. And been there she has.
Terry is working on putting together her own non for profit organizations called “Lung Cancer Heroes” dedicated to raising awareness and funding for lung cancer research
Although new to the Imerman Angel staff, this past January, I had the pleasure of introducing Terry to her 50th 1-on-1 pair up. She has done several more since. Terry has a “can-do” attitude that is unparalleled. She has never said no, she has never been too tired, too busy, too pre-occupied, too anything to help out a person in their time of need. She hugs with her heart and high fives with her soul.
Imerman Angels is proud to have her among our dedicated group of Survivor Mentor Angels.
- Lisa Cristia, Connection Specialist
My name is Joe Long, I am a TC-3B survivor (3yrs out) & I was an Angel for Scott Minnig, who is now a TC-3B survivor (6 months out YAHOO!!).
During his treatment we quickly realized we had a lot in common outside of the whole testicle thing. We have a lot of the same hobbies, one being snowboarding! Turns out Scott is quite the regular gnar ‘boarder who likes to head west a few times every winter. His recent tango with TC has kept him out of the game for the last 2 years & he was feeling the itch to get back to the legendary back bowl black diamond trials of Vail Mountain.
After him nagging me to go with him on his next trip (he may have asked twice which is all it took) I did something that I, for some reason, have a hard time doing… saying yes to a generous offer “Hells Yeah I’ll go with ya!”, i said. So last weekend we flew out to Denver, Colorado to meet up with his buddies & check out this little hill called Vail! Scott told me he was a lucky charm for bringing snow… turns out he was right. Vail got 1-2 ft over the weekend that we were there. So not only with I be snowboarding on one of the best mountains in the world but I will be doing it with fresh powder. Scott & I were stoked!
The 1st day in Vail was crazy. It was a practical white out, I couldn’t see 10 ft in front of me & we were going down black diamonds on our 1st run. Our two days in Vail were amazing!! After the 2nd day in powder we were exhausted, I was so proud of Scott for being in such good shape considering it wasn’t to long ago he had a nasty daily drip of chemo to deal with. So we humbly got off the mountain & decided to hit up a place called Tennessee Pass. This is a cross country ski lodge that works with a Restaurant/Yurt in what seemed like the middle of no where! So just to make sure we got a good workout that day we cross country skied for a total of approximately 90 minutes to have an amazing dinner which included wild boar, elk & salmon! The last day we hit Copper mountain which was also a blast despite the fact that my legs felt like concrete.
So looking back, a huge thank you to IA for this experience. Not only did Jonny introduce me to my great friend, Scott but also his buddies in Colorado. And with out that introduction I would have never experienced Vail like we did. There was one thing I was bummed about though… Jonny knew we were going out there & he contacted a fellow Angel & a First Descents member who lives in Beaver Creek, Angela Rossi. Unfortunately she was not there when we were but she was kind enough to let us stay at her place for the weekend. I have not had the privileged to meet her yet but I hope I get the opportunity to give her a huge thank you!
Sometime last spring or summer you connected my sister Sarah with Sue. Both girls were diagnosed with the rare cancer Clear Cell Sarcoma. Unfortunately, Sarah and Sue lost their fight and passed away about 40 days apart . They didn’t have a lot of time to really get to know each other but they definitely reached out to each other as they were the only people they knew of with their kind of cancer. I know that they found comfort in talking to someone who “got it.” I tried my best to understand my sister (we all did!) and what was going through her mind, but there’s no way I could have understood. The same as my friends now have no idea how I much I miss my sister and how much it actually hurts to know she’s gone. But, both women understood each other. It was so wonderful that they had a chance to connect with someone else who had similar feelings.
What has also been so amazing is that our mom has really connected with Sue’s mom. They have emailed so much since the end of the summer when things really started to look bad for both girls. My mom supported her in Sue’s last days, and Sue’s mom guided my mom shortly after when Sarah was at the end. They still email regularly and find so much comfort in someone understanding what this is like. It’s almost like they have this personal grief support group.
An organization like Imerman Angel’s is so amazing because you help people find others they normally would never cross paths with, and then they help ease some each others pain and loneliness. Sarah loved IA. In fact, after she came off of chemo and was waiting for a clinical trial to accept her, she made sure she volunteered at your booth at the Chicago Marathon. She was not feeling well at the time, but helping others made her feel better in a different way.
I just thought you should know what wonderful work you are doing! I know she probably didn’t have time to let you know how she felt about IA as the end came very unexpectedly and quickly. But, I know what IA meant to her and I know how I feel about it, so I wanted to share this with you. You probably don’t even know of all those who you have helped. I may not have been directly involved in the one-on-one support, but two of the most important people in my life found comfort from your organization and that helps ease some of my pain from watching them hurt so much. Thank you for doing what you do, and please know that what you work so hard for every day really is worth it and really does make a difference!