Although it is the end of January, we wanted to pay homage to Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by sharing one of our favorite Cervical Cancer awareness and survivor stories:
Meaghan’s surgery scars don’t stand a chance against her tattoo!
She has told her story to millions of people all over the country, but it was almost as if she was sharing it for the first time when I spoke with Meaghan Edelstein, the youngest survivor of terminal cervical cancer.
It was 2007 and Meaghan was a 28 year old law student, like anyone else. She noticed some unusual bleeding that led her to several doctors who tested her, scanned her, and advised her that nothing was unusal. As the bleeding and discomfort increased, she knew that something was wrong but no one would listen to her concerns. She was perscribed anti-anxiety, sleeping pills and, finally, szitchoprenia medication to alleviate what others were claiming as feelings resulting from “over stress due to law school”. A desperate night where she nearly cut open her stomach sent Meaghan to the Emergency Room demanding answers. Something was inside of her and she wanted it out. She knew she was dying.
What the tiny cameras did not see, while looking for cysts and tiny tumors during doctor visits, was a giant tumor that was pushing up against her organs. She was diagnosed with 3B terminal cervical cancer and started on her journey though chemo and radiation. Told that she did not have a chance to live, she ignored the recommendation to give up and pushed herself through treatment, greatful to finally be heard: if nothing, she had a diagnosis.
Read the rest of Meaghan’s story here on the Imerman Angels Blog
“Just working and pushing myself towards this goal had changed me in ways I couldn’t believe; I never got the chance to thank [Cindy] for that. This whole experience has changed my outlook on life and taught me to really appreciate it. I now strive to use all my time here to further or better the lives of others. I am also more sympathetic to people around me and have learned to open my eyes: everyone around me has some kind of story and some kind of struggle. Now that I see this I can better relate and open up to them. It’s really hard to describe how much Cindy taught me, though I hadn’t ever met her before.”
Helen Slivinski, a Sophomore at South Lakes High School, began her International Baccalaureate (IB) program service project knowing that she wanted it to benefit a good cause, and that she would incorporate her passion for performing arts. Helen’s projects to raise money and awareness include long term t-shirt and pin sales and culminate in a performing arts benefit show on March 20th. The campaign is branded “Think Love,” a theme and design created by Helen for the project.
Helen’s dance teacher, also her sponsor for the project, told her about a friend of a friend, Cindy Martin, who was struggling to pay for her cancer treatment. Cindy worked as a hairdresser in Helen’s community, and was known to be a friend to everyone she met. Cindy had no health insurance, so when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in August of 2010, she had no idea how she would pay for treatment. By the time Helen found Cindy, she was battling the remaining 10% of her malignant tumor, as well as a wave of overwhelming medical bills. With her sponsor’s guidance, Helen decided that the proceeds from the fundraiser would be used to offset Cindy’s treatment costs.
“Everyone at the fundraiser had some strange connection to the both of us and affected our lives indirectly. It was so strange: I don’t think I could describe it in words except to just call it fate. “
As preparations were being made for the benefit show, they received horrible news. On February 23rd, Ms. Martin passed away. She caught pneumonia, and her immune system was too weak to handle the disease and the treatment.
“It was devastating to find out that all my work was unnecessary. I was too late to help her. I didn’t even have a chance to meet her.”
According to the family’s wishes, the total raised after the benefit show will be split evenly between Imerman Angels and the National Brain Tumor Society. Helen’s hope for the show is to raise awareness and create a sense of closure for Cindy’s friends and family. Imerman Angels is lucky to have supporters like Helen. The thoughtfulness and effort invested in this project is truly inspiring. The “Think Love” benefit show, upcoming on March 20th, will include performances by students and local professionals. If you live in or around Washington DC, we strongly encourage you to attend! The show will take place at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Dr, Reston, VA 20191).
Parts of the United States are blanketed in snow. People are home from work and have extra time to create words like “snowpocalypse” and “blizaster”. With all this bonus time, we put together a list of 7 things you can do from home to help ensure no one faces cancer alone:
- Tell someone you know about our service. We personally connect anyone fighting cancer with a cancer survivor just like them. These “Mentor Angels” (now more than 4,000!) are carefully selected and have beaten the same cancer, at the same stage, with the same treatment. Our service is for anyone living anywhere with any type of cancer. It’s free. Just point them to http://imermanangels.org/get-cancer-support.php or have them call toll free 877-274-5529.
- Upload a photo of a Snow Angel to your social media profile and add the caption “Imerman Angels helps ensure no one faces cancer alone. www.imermanangels.org”
- Request brochures through our website and distribute them to doctors, nurses, and cancer professionals you know. Check it out at http://imermanangels.org/support-us.php
- Use social media to raise awareness – thousands of people hear about our free cancer support service from the use of social media. Here’s a list of simple ways to help in 5 minutes or less: http://imermanangels.org/support-us/make-an-impact-right-now.php
- Run a race or join a team to raise awareness and funds. Last year almost 200 marathon runners wore Imerman Angels jerseys and raised funds to promote our mission and help ensure no one faces cancer alone. Sign up at http://www.firstgiving.org/imermanangels
- Plan an event to benefit Imerman Angels – last year alone people planned benefits ranging from simple parties with a few friends to sophisticated tournaments with hundreds of people. You can too, check out our event hosting page at http://imermanangels.org/news-and-events/third-party-events.php
- Feeling generous? Make a tax-deductible donation online at http://imermanangels.org/support-us/donate-or-sponsor.php
I came across the blog of one of our mentor angels/volunteers, Jemma, who shared her story about how she became involved with Imerman Angels. Jemma is a two time cancer survivor. She now lives an active life, participating in athletic events for the charities that she supports. Read about this, her experience with our partner charity First Descents, and her cancer survivor story at IAMJEM.