Jonny Imerman is a two-time testicular cancer survivor and founder of the cancer advocacy group, Imerman Angels, which connects cancer patients and their caregivers with the one-on-one support of cancer survivors. Last Friday, Jonny visited the Oncofertility Consortium and discussed his motivation behind Imerman Angels.
Imerman understands that people undergoing cancer treatment benefit from developing relationships with cancer survivors who understand what they are experiencing. In fact, he calls people currently undergoing treatment, cancer fighters, not patients. According to Imerman, it indicates, “You can do something about your cancer. You are not passive in your treatment.”
Imerman founded Imerman Angels after he completed treatment for his own cancer and returned to the hospital to help young patients who were undergoing treatment. “I would end up talking to these cancer fighters for hours and could see the effect that talking had on them,” says Imerman. With a passion for the cause, Jonny established Imerman Angels in 2003. In just a few years, “We developed the largest group of cancer survivors dedicated to one-on-one support of cancer fighters,” says Imerman.
Cancer survivors, called Mentor Angels, interested in getting involved with the organization fill out a questionnaire online or over the phone discussing a wide variety of topics about themselves and their cancer. This allows cancer fighters who call Imerman Angels to be matched up with an Angel within 24 hours. Once the group brings people together, they also follow up within one week to make sure the cancer fighter gets the support needed.
Imerman Angels also assists the caregivers of cancer patients, including parents, children, and friends. Imerman developed the organization so, “Parents with a child in treatment can talk to families that were in the same place 5 years ago.” As with cancer patients, this provides emotional support to caregivers.
In 2009, alone, Immerman Angels made connections for more than 1,400 cancer fighters. Further growth of the organization, such as increasing the number of survivors in the program, will allow Imerman Angels to support more cancer patients and their caregivers.