Cancer survivor Walter Dougan, who is also a Mentor Angel for Imerman Angels, considers Father’s Day especially wonderful after his stage III colon cancer diagnosis in 2003. Thirteen years out from his battle with cancer, he now has four children, nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“My family and I celebrate a lot, including Father’s Day, because I feel so blessed. Father’s Day means even more to me after surviving cancer, because it offers a special occasion to spend with the family I almost lost. You recognize your own mortality after an experience like that. Every day is a gift,” he says.
Diagnosed at 62 years old, Walter received chemotherapy for six months, interrupted by a small stroke from which he quickly recovered.
“Throughout all of it I had the best caregivers – my wife and my four kids. The support from everyone gave me the strength to keep going, hope and a purpose. My kids all got together on the last day of my chemotherapy treatment and had a party for me. They even created a banner that proclaimed, ‘No mo’ chemo,” Walter says, chuckling.
The amiable family man decided to become a Mentor Angel after his daughter, Erin – Imerman Angels COO and Director of Development – told Walter about the program. He felt so blessed to have survived cancer, he felt it only made sense to give back. So far, Walter has mentored three cancer fighters.
“Being a Mentor Angel is a bit of a different experience with each mentee. I think the program is wonderful and I can definitely recognize the value of it. When you are mentoring, you become friends with the cancer fighter. We both benefit from it. It is not a one-way street; it is give-and-take,” he says.
Walter shares input, based on his own experience, with his mentees. For example, he has given them an idea of what they might expect in their day-to-day care as they go through treatment. Perhaps most importantly, he lets his mentees know that he is always available to them.
“When you volunteer as a Mentor Angel, you have firsthand knowledge of what your mentee is going through, allowing you to empathize with them as well as give them hope and comfort. Providing this type of support is important,” Walter says.
As Walter gets ready to celebrate Father’s Day this year, he plans to keep helping cancer fighters.
“I am grateful to be a Mentor Angel and I want to continue doing it,” Walter says.
It is only with the generosity of people like you that we are able to provide free emotional support to fathers like Walter. Please consider making a donation to Imerman Angels in honor of your own dad on this special day. You can help a father whose life has been touched by cancer today!