Read on as Jessica shares her experience in meeting Laura Alexander, a Cancer survivor with Imerman Angels…
I sat and listened to this extremely brave woman tell her story. The tears came even harder as I empathized with her every word. We were the same age, we had the same type of cancer, and we lived in the same city. She looked healthy and strong and determined to live. Without even having ever met her, I wanted to be like her. She had her life back, her health back, and all of her hair.
When I called the Imerman Angels office, Jonny Imerman answered. I told him about my story. I told him that some of my closest friends, but not all of them, had deserted me. No one knew what to do or what to say. I was hurt, lonely and lost. He took detailed notes and he asked to meet me at a restaurant overlooking the Chicago River, one gorgeous September day in 2007. I dressed up and did my hair for one of the last times and went not knowing what to expect. All I knew was that, I could not possibly go on crying six hours a day and that someone needed to help me!
We talked for three hours and he quickly started making mental notes about my personality, my cancer diagnosis, and my needs. By the end of the lunch, which I couldn’t eat, he told me that he had the perfect girl! When he mentioned that this woman, Laura Alexander, who also had Stage 2 breast cancer, I smiled. Not only did she come to my rescue, but the entire group of “Angels”, as they call themselves, showed up too! I was surrounded with support.
Needless to say, many things happened over the next nine months. I had to go through losing my hair, four months of chemo, two months of radiation and a break up. Throughout it all, Laura was right there next to me. She was on the phone, whenever I needed her, and she met me for lunch regularly. Of course, we volunteered and spoke at many Imerman Angels events together. She kept me smiling, and every time that I saw her, I knew that I could do this. I would heal and I would survive! Imerman Angels gave me so much hope that I became an outspoken advocate for IA ever since.
I met the love of my life one week before I started chemo. Everyone always wants to know, “where did you meet him?” I always think it ironic, that we met at a bar/restaurant in Wicker Park called Moonshine. He is a doctor and he seemed very interested in securing my wellness. We laughed and cried and just connected in every way, shape and form. He encouraged me to continue with my everyday life and keep fronting my band, Fly Over State. He said that keeping my creative flow going throughout the next year would be imperative to maintaining balance and, of course, help keep my mind off of things. He introduced me to meditation and breathing. He encouraged me to eat foods with a better nutritive value, and he gave me great advice on how to maintain my health during treatments, and he was right. I never got sick. My energy level was great and somehow I stayed rather positive and radiant during treatments. I practiced yoga and went for long walks on the same day as chemo treatments. I made myself triple and quadruple my vegetable and fruit intake, organic of course and I made every effort to consume organic meats at least once a day. For every blood test, I had a normal white blood cell count. I felt great and even with my lopsided wig, which was donated by coutureforcancer.org, I looked great. Every day felt like a gift.
Finally, the ordeal ended. The treatments stopped. My little hairs started to grow like a new baby and we waited six months for my follow up mammogram. I began dating the doctor, Anupam Ted Kedia, and we fell madly, into a deep love. He wanted to marry me as soon as possible, but first things first.
We entered Northwestern wearing matching Imerman Angels t-shirts and matching smiles when I found out that YES! INDEED! I WAS CANCER FREE!!!! The picture tells it all!
We made our way over to a restaurant to celebrate and it was there that a young, beautiful girl approached us. She said, “I’ve heard really great things about Imerman Angels and Jonny.” I launched into the whole story and how I just found out that I am CANCER FREE! She congratulated me and then shared her story. She was just 28 and newly diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She was in chemotherapy, in the same nightmare I had just experienced. She felt very alone and isolated. Her hair was still in tact and she looked as healthy and gorgeous as any other beautiful blonde. She wondered if the chemo was even working. She had no signs of cancer, but she was in the midst of the fight of her life…
Check in for the final installment of Jessica’s story!