Trudy Bettiker is an 18-year survivor of glioblastoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the brain or spinal cord. After being treated at Evanston’s NorthShore University HealthSystem, Trudy realized that the support she had during her journey was so important to her recovery.
“I first entered my journey with brain cancer diagnosis in a state of shock. Why me? And later I discovered the answer to that: Why not me? When I was given a grim picture of what was ahead for me I didn’t think I had the fight in me. I was 56 years old at the time,” says Trudy, reflecting on her experience. “The staff at NorthShore where I had many doctors and nurses were always there to help me through my radiation and chemo treatments. It took me three and a half years before I could wake up in the morning and not think about how I had brain cancer. The brain tumor support group at NorthShore was a huge help to me. I encourage everyone to become a part of that.”
After realizing the importance of support, Trudy decided to use her survivorship to give back to others facing cancer.
Trudy joined Imerman Angels and became a mentor to people who were recently diagnosed with glioblastoma. Because of her experience with this type of cancer, she felt she was able to give unique insight into the process and how to cope with some of the challenging aspects of facing such a serious diagnosis.
“I joined Imerman Angels when a good friend of mine, whom I met in a brain tumor support group, also had a brain tumor was going to celebrate her 10-year survival. She died before we had a chance to celebrate,” says Trudy. “I told her I would join Imerman Angels in her honor. She had joined Imerman Angels when it first started. I didn’t know anything about what they did! It was new to Chicago and everyone that was a part of the organization was a volunteer! I thought it was just for young cancer survivors. I was wrong!”
After realizing that her experience with glioblastoma could help other people being diagnosed with her same type of cancer, Trudy joined Imerman Angels as a Mentor Angel in 2011. Since then, she has mentored countless cancer fighters who were looking for comfort and understanding from someone who had walked in their shoes.
“I have been a Mentor Angel to at least 25 or more people with glioblastoma brain cancer. I love their reaction when I tell them how long I have survived!” Trudy says about her mentees. “Recently, I had one of my mentees tell me that after talking to me I gave him the HOPE that he could fight this cancer!”
To be exact, Trudy has mentored 41 cancer fighters in the last nine years!
Incredibly, Trudy’s service to Imerman Angels doesn’t stop there. She decided to volunteer with the organization to attend outreach events at NorthShore University HealthSystem, where she was treated. Imerman Angels’ outreach events involve volunteers going into hospital waiting rooms and talking with patients and their families about Imerman Angels’ one-on-one cancer support services. They bring snacks (like Lemonheads), drinks and Imerman Angels brochures to spread the word to people who need support.
“I have been active in the events that are held at Evanston Hospital to represent Imerman Angels. I believe in their mission and I only wish they would have been in existence when I needed them 18 years ago! I needed someone to talk to and share what I was experiencing at the time,” explains Trudy, who has been an outreach volunteer since 2015.
“I know that I can’t take life for granted anymore and consider it a blessing that I can help others through their journey with brain cancer. I know that is why God left me here to help others!”
If you’re interested in becoming a Mentor Angel for a cancer fighter, previvor or caregiver in need, visit our website at www.imermanangels.org/give-support. If you’re interested in volunteering for Imerman Angels in another way, visit our website at www.imermanangels.org/volunteer-opportunities.