Snap a pic wearing Imerman Angels apparel anywhere in the world – or post it on our Facebook fan page- and we’ll include it in our ongoing blog series, “Where in the World is IA??” Thanks to David Hardin for posing at the Mall of America!
Last night I had the pleasure of spending a little time with our IA crew after the Annual Spring Fling. Jonny (Imerman) and I got on the topic of 1-on-1 mentor relationships (of course!) and our conversation brought me back to why I joined IA in the first place.
Cancer, illness of any kind, happens to all kinds of people all over the country. Many have come to IA and have shared their story with us, showing me the ways that families, friends and communities can come together for a person in a big way when they least expect it. I have posted a few in our “Survivor Stories”.
On the same note, there are people fighting cancer who may be, or feel, completely alone.
IA empowers fighters, raises cancer awareness, makes it okay to “talk about it”- but most of all, IA gives ANYONE the opportunity to have at least one person in the world who cares about the fact that they are sick, wants to hear about their fears and is genuinely ecstatic to hear about their specific victory. The more I think about it in practice, the more I realize the potential impact that could have to one person.
A close friend of mine, one of the most supportive people I know, was recently paired up in a 1-on-1 relationship and shared with me how concerned she was about her Fighter Angel- someone she had just met. It reminded me of how many good people are out there, potential great friends, who are ready to be there for a stranger if given the chance.
The goal of IA is to ensure that no one fights cancer alone and that someday, within 24 hours of diagnosis, anyone diagnosed with cancer can be connected in a 1-on-1 support relationship. Jonny reminded me that there are millions of survivors, but only about a million fighters diagnosed each year. That means that there are more than enough people in the world who have beaten cancer and are ready and able to support someone else through their journey.
I was joking to Jonny that my friends and coworkers have heard me talk on and on about our mission, and we were joking about his standard uniform of an IA tshirt. We realized that the reason we do these things is because we know that every person we meet, or sees something about Imerman Angels, can bring us to one more person who may reach out and be connected as a mentor or fighter.
Maybe we can’t cure cancer, but I think someday we can cure fighting cancer alone.
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.
Today, Meaghan is a survivor. Though her body and life are changed from the experience, she has emerged with a new sense of purpose and appreciation for her life. She knows the answers to questions like “What is it like to know you are going to die” and has experienced the feeling of her body shutting down. An advocate for adoption, Meaghan will be a mother, should she choose to, by adopting one of the many children in this country who are in need of a good home.
Meaghan’s personal blog is straight from the hip, just like her. It’s a great resource for anyone who has been diagnosed with cervical cancer or HPV, a disease that effects a high number of people all over the country. She also has created an organization called “Spirit Jump” that spreads love to people fighting cancer. It’s a great way to show support for a cancer fighter, as an individual or together as a family. Head to her sites to learn more about Meaghan’s “against-the-odds” victory over cancer and ways that you can support other people fighting similar battles all over the country.
Thanks to Meaghan for sharing her story.
Ethan Zohn, known as the winner of Survivor: Africa, is more than just a television personality. He co-founded Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit organization that trains professional soccer players to teach African children, through a tailor-made curriculum, about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s disease in April, Ethan has been an advocate for cancer awareness, publishing inspirational quotes and videos of his treatment and more.
To add depth to his public battle against cancer, his long-time girlfriend, Jenna Morasca, has created Zohn’s illness for Fancast, which is a collection of topics ranging from the feelings of responsibility that comes with being a caregiver, alternate therapy and experiences with chemotherapy.
Take a peek at her blog and http://www.ezohn.com/ to learn more about their journey.