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Feb 8

Why do you run for Imerman Angels?

Deep down inside I wish that I could be a caregiver mentor angel, but I’ve never had the courage to do so.  I run because I can.  I run with Team IA because I am so impressed by those that can open themselves up by sharing their stories and being there for another person facing cancer. I wish that I could put cancer behind me and pretend like it never happened and that it didn’t create a new normal, but I’ll never get away from it.  So I make the best from the worst. I run and fundraise because it is the least that I can do for such a great organization.  I am overwhelmingly impressed by the Mentor Angels, they blow my mind.

What is it about running that connects you to the mission?

The journey and the training up to and including the race reminds me of those that face cancer.  Every effort is put into making sure that you remain strong and push yourself to the end.   When the finish line is in sight, you can drag yourself, tired and empty, across the finish line knowing that you can finally rest.  What strikes me is the fact that you are surrounded by supporters the entire race. Unless you have someone running with you the whole way, it is easy to feel alone.  We need people who will join us on the path who really understand how hard the race is and who will celebrate with you as you cross the finish line.

Tell us about your connection to the Chicago Marathon?

The 2007 Chicago Marathon was my first Marathon; at the time I was running for the Young Survival Coalition which was a wonderful source of support for my wife.  For those that remember, 2007 was so hot that they cancelled it midway through the race.  Fortunately, I was less than a quarter mile away from the finish line, so nothing was going to stop me.  I learned that day that marathons are unpredictable.  The best we could do was give everything we had and try to not look surprised.

What’s your favorite race?

Chicago Marathon will always have a special place in my heart.  2013 will be my 7th Chicago Marathon and hopefully my 21st Marathon overall.  I have never run a race with so much spectator support.  The opportunity to run through all the different neighborhoods in Chicago is what makes this such an incredible race.  It is the biggest race that I have ever run at 45,000 capacity, compared to the Stone Bridge Marathon, where I have only ran past two people, which is at 200 capacity.

What’s your favorite Team IA moment?

It is hard to pinpoint my favorite moment, but running with wings and a big pink puff on your head is always a good time.  I think it is awesome when runners talk with me during the marathon about why I am wearing the wings.  I actually love all the attention around the wing and wig.  They laugh, point, and take pictures.  Plus I get to talk about how much I love Imerman Angels.

Feb 6

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.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to Jemma and her story.  Like many of our fighters, survivors and caregivers, Jemma has taken both cancer and life head on.  To meet Jemma, or share your story with her, reach out to us!   Check out the links below to learn more about Jemma!

o   Website/Blog: www.iamjem.com

o   Articles and Accomplishments:

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/storiesofhope/hodgkin-lymphoma-survivor-pours-her-energy-into-volunteering

http://desplaines.patch.com/announcements/des-plaines-resident-selected-as-a-stakeholder-to-review-american-cancer-society-research-grant-proposals

http://www.self.com/health/2012/10/young-cancer-survivors

Feb 3

Who are cancer caregivers?

  • 82 percent are female
  • 71 percent are married
  • 61 percent have been providing care for less than six months
  • 54 percent live with the patient for whom they are caring
  • 47 percent are more than 50 years old
  • 36 percent reported caregiving took more than 40 hours of time per week

If you have stood beside a friend, family, coworker, loved one, neighbor, or anyone that needed your support while fighting cancer, you are a Cancer Caregiver.  IA connects not only cancer fighters and survivors in 1-on-1 support relationships, but we also connect the caregivers that help them through the fight to share stories, support and care to each other.  Have a unique story to share?  You can impact another caregivers cancer experience by sharing.

Register as a Caregiver Mentor Angel

Jan 30

Whether you are going for distance or speed this running season, there is one way to add just a little more meaning towards your passion: running for a great cause.

What is Team IA? An athletic team that supports Imerman Angels. Every fundraising page created, jersey worn while training, and individual you tell about Imerman Angels helps raise awareness through your network and in the community.

Choose ANY RACE, ANY WHERE to represent Imerman Angels.

We have runners representing Imerman Angels at races across the country and beyond. In Chicago, you’ll be in the company of numerous Imerman Angels runners at these races: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, Soldier Field 10 Miler, 13.1 Chicago, Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, South Shore Triathlon, Chicago Triathlon, September Half Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and Hot Chocolate 15k/5k.

Check back into our blog over the next few weeks.  We will be sharing inspirational stories and experiences from our team as we lead up to the 2013 Chicago Marathon Registration.  Or  take the plunge and join our team at www.firstgiving.com/imermanangels/2013 and put some wings into your race!

Jan 29

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:

Meg's tatMeaghan’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

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