Happy New Year! We’re kicking off 2010 with a great, busy week! Thus far, we’ve had 34 cancer fighters and 7 caregivers reach out for 1on1 support. We’ve completed 25 pair-up connections this week so far!
The pair-up that I would like to highlight is pretty unique. A 26 year old guy from Washington fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma reached out looking to connect not only with another Hodgkin’s survivor but someone who was an athlete, specifically, a cyclist. He wanted to chat with someone who got back on the bike while going through treatment. He had some questions about how long they waited, if they were able to ride while on treatment, etc… Well, we found him two great athlete survivors to chat with!
First, I connected him with “Wheels.” I met Wheels (her camp nickname) this past summer at First Descents. She was one of my closest buddies at camp and she lives in Colorado Springs, CO. She’s a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, had it while she was in her late 20’s and she’s 30 years old now – doing great, healthy again and finishing up her PhD in psychology. Wheels got her nickname because she’s a huge cyclist. On her time off, she’s also a training coach AND she won a national championship 11 months after her diagnosis.
Next, I connected him with another guy living in NY who had Hodgkin’s when he was 30 years old. He was also an athlete – he played hockey and lifted weights. I thought he could shed some light on his experience with balancing treatment and his sport guy-to-guy.
Needless to say, these were two great connections. We not only pair-up based on age, gender, cancer type and stage level but we also try to specialize the connection based on the needs of the cancer fighter. Perhaps someone is looking for another athlete, or someone who did alternative medicine, or maybe another single mom with kids. We always do our best to meet these needs.
Again, if you and/or someone you know has been touched by cancer – please don’t hesitate to reach out. The first step is to register online from our homepage please click on “GET CONNECTED.” We’d be happy to get you connected to another survivor and/or register you in our network so that you can help mentor-angel someone else who is newly diagnosed.
Wishing all of you a wonderful, healthy year in 2010!
Weekly Pair-Up Spotlight: The Angel & Caregiver Duo
We had some pretty incredible fighter, survivor and caregiver connections this past week… it’s hard to choose just one to spotlight!
A husband and wife reached out to us from the western suburbs of Chicago. They’re both in their late 40s and also have two healthy children at home. The family learned about Imerman Angels at the Rush Hospital Cancer Survivor’s Day. The husband recently had a reoccurrence of Multiple Myeloma and wanted to connect with another guy who went through Multiple Myeloma with a reoccurrence. His wife also wanted to connect to another caregiver – someone who could relate to what she’s currently going through. Imerman Angels was able to introduce this family to another amazing family – a man who also had a reoccurrence of Multiple Myeloma and his wife, an incredible and sweet caregiver. They’re both in their late 30s, living in the northern suburbs of Chicago, they also have a child and were also treated at Rush Hospital in Chicago . This particular survivor and caregiver angel duo are shining stars who have helped many other families dealing with Multiple Myeloma!
We’ve already received feedback that both families have connected and will plan to stay in touch to provide support, inspiration and encouragement! This is what Imerman Angels is all about! If you or someone you know would like to get connected for 1-on-1 support, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Everyone on staff at IA is a cancer survivor – we can immediately relate to what you’re going through. We’re more than happy to get you connected to someone else who is exactly like you. Someone who’s been there, done that – and has walked a mile in your shoes!
This past week, a 58 year old woman living in Zion, IL with a very rare type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma called Waldenström Macroglobulinemia reached out to see if we had any survivors of the rare cancer in our network that she could speak to. To her surprise, we were able to introduce her to a gentleman, 62 years old living in Sacramento, CA who also beat stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Waldenström Macroglobulinemia and is doing well now! Both the fighter and the survivor were so excited to talk to one another – they have been able to share stories, compare notes and provide encouragement and inspiration!
Kristin and Sherrie were united in 2008 when Kristin was fighting cancer. The two were kind enough to tell us their story of being matched together through Imerman Angels’ 1-on-1 cancer support. From complete strangers to best friends, read below for the inside scoop on being a surivor/fighter angel.
MF: To start off, I want to thank you for sharing your story with us! Let’s start with how the two of you met.
Kristin: Jonny had paired me up with Sherrie. I was in Chicago in August of ’08 for a concert and a woman had come up to me and told me about Imerman Angels. (I was bald at the time and going through radiation, so I stood out in the crowd). I gave her my contact info and Jonny called me within a week. He gave me Sherrie’s information and we exchanged a couple emails about a good time to chat on the phone and then had our first phone conversation that lasted over an hour!
Sherrie: We talked on the phone for a year, and finally met August 10, 2009 for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory Old Orchard.
Kristin: We have talked weekly ever since!
MF: This was the first match up for the both of you. What was your impression of IA before the two of you were connected?
Sherrie: Kristin was the first person I had met through IA. I got connected with Jonny via an old boyfriend who lived in Jonny’s building. Jonny was so dynamic, and after I was sick all I wanted to do was help other survivors- It was a perfect match!
Kristin: I was very impressed as to how fast IA got a hold of me and told me all about the program. Jonny’s enthusiasm was and is absolutely amazing!
MF: What was your first phone call like, was it hard to break the ice with a new person?
Kristin: Our first phone conversation was AWESOME! I was going through radiation at the time, after completing my first of two BMT’s. Sherrie and I had discussed our diagnosis, treatments we had been through, biopsies, and all that comes with cancer. It felt so good after almost a year of battling Hodgkin’s,to know that I was not alone. I finally had someone to talk to about it with and felt totally comfortable. We clicked instantly.
Sherrie: We are both super chatty, and I felt like we had known each other for our whole lives!
MF: Through your journey together, what is the biggest benefit that you would say comes from having a pair up?
Sherrie: It is someone that I can help, but can also help me. Even though my family, and non-cancer buddies love me, until they have walked in my shoes, they will never know what cancer at a young age is like. Kristin can identify with everything I am feeling!
Kristin: I have honestly met one of my best friends. Sherrie has been there for me when I have felt most alone. Her support has meant so much to me, and my family. While in the hospital for my 2nd BMT earlier this year, she called me on her way to work numerous times during the week to check on me, see how my counts were and what the latest updates were. She has given me so much knowledge and endless support.
MF: How did your impression change throughout the process, if at all?
Kristin: I have so much respect for IA and what they do for fighters, survivors, caregivers, and anyone else involved. It’s an outstanding organization and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone dealing with cancer.
MF: You live in different cities- did that effect your ability to communicate?
Kristin: There were no problems at all communicating. We finally met in person in August this year and have had dinner on another occasion since. We will be friends for life!
MF: What is the biggest thing that the other person brought to the relationship?
Kristin: Honesty, support, friendship, and advice on how to keep on going when times are tough. Sherrie’s positive attitude has taught me that I can get through cancer and I will SURVIVE!
Sherrie: Understanding and a wonderful life-lasting friendship
MF: On a more individual level, how did the pair up affect your experience as cancer fighter/survivor?
Sherrie: It helped me to offer hope to others, and really reach out to ANY survivor out there.
Kristin: It has had a great effect on me as a fighter. Sherrie was able to tell me about chemo medications that she had received that I had to have prior to my transplant. We compared side effects, etc. It was just great to talk to someone who shared a similar experience and got through it. She has shown me that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
MF: You both have fought and survived cancer. What advice would you give to someone who is fighting cancer?
Sherrie: Use your resources. Trust in a higher power. Put your mind to the test, and positive thinking MUST prevail!
Kristin: I would HIGHLY recommend Imerman Angels. Even if you don’t want to “talk” about cancer, it’s such a relief to know that there is an organization out there. You are not alone.
MF: What inspires you as individuals?
Kristin: My family. Living life to the fullest everyday! Laugh, dream, and believe!
Sherrie: People who have wonderful character. As a good person, I try to make it my point to help another person, or give encouragement to someone every day.
MF: What is the thing that you value most about the other person?
Sherrie: She makes me laugh! In person, we could talk for hours! And she talks more than I do! (Which is a lot!)
Kristin: I value Sherrie’s honesty and friendship. I would have been completely lost without her in my life!
MF: Anything else you want to share?
Kristin: I can’t say enough positive things about Imerman Angels. I’ve discussed it at both hospitals that I go to, with my nurses, doctors, and social workers. I want everyone to know how wonderful it is. Everyone needs an Imerman Angel in their life!