The deeper I go into the cancer community, built out of terrific challenges generated by a diagnosis, rounds of treatments, living into a new normal no one can truly prepare for, the more I am humbled by how people show up.
Out of diversity and tragic circumstances, so many dig down and build a monument of caring; a testament of their strength and courage. They take their own experiences and create a beacon of hope for others.
The threads created by twitter, Facebook and the internet at large connect the dots and the story that emerges over and over is how someone who has faced their own adversity has turned it around into something that is a contribution to others.
Jonny Imerman is one of these souls who chooses love over anger, empowerment over victim thinking. Diagnosed at the age of 26, Jonny faced his illness and stared it down. Like many young adults with cancer, the experience created a feeling of isolation. Finding someone who could say truly that they understood wasn’t easy.
Instead of saying, “I wish”, he did…and in 2003, Jonny created Imerman Angels, a non-profit organization committed to connecting those new or lost on the journey to healing from cancer with survivors and caregivers who have lived beyond it. Imerman Angels spreads an invisible net of support between a population voted onto an island that is not a preferred destination in life.
This volunteer program allows those who have been through the experience of having their lives become something they never imagined can be of service. When you give from lessons learned by challenges you faced, there is a sense of meaning and value that goes beyond how you integrate it into your own life. There is also a sense of appreciation for having made it far enough along in the healing journey of taking back your life when you can share the hope of a better today and tomorrow.
Through his caring and compassion, Jonny has created a very special tribal storytelling circle. Imerman Angels is the largest organization of its kind to have a mission focused on providing personalized connections that enable one-on-one support among cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.
I’ve added my name to the database: I am the caregiver of a young adult who passed from Hodgkin’s Disease willing to support and listen to anyone in need who is now walking a similar path.
Imerman Angels recognizes there is a unique aspect to every story, but they notice the common connections and match people accordingly.
Out of his own health challenges and sense of isolation, Jonny created something good, warm and wonderful. It is bigger than his own struggles and victories. Jonny Imerman and his staff are angels among us.
If you are interested in receiving the support of an Imerman Angel or would like to add your name to the database as a volunteer to listen to those in need, you can go to their website for more information. Bless you, Jonny!