Battling cancer is a unique experience, and people turn to family and friends for much-needed support. But many survivors share that while battling the disease, it’s incredibly powerful to connect with a person who has gone through cancer themselves. That’s why Jonny Imerman launched Imerman Angels, a nonprofit organization that connects cancer patients with recovered survivors.
We had the pleasure of talking with Jonny in one of our Spotlight Sessions, where he talked about the motivation behind launching his nonprofit and how it’s impacting people with cancer and their healing process.
Here are some key takeaways from his interview:
1. Genuine support starts with a network
“The fact that people are doing that all the time around the clock, across the world, and helping people, that’s what we’re the most proud of, that we worked together. We all believe that mentoring matters to cancer.”
Building a network of people to mentor cancer patients is no easy feat. Staff members at Imerman Angels have worked tirelessly to put together a real support network from all around the world that is available. The community that the organization has built demonstrates that people are willing to help one another when they are given the opportunity and a system through which to do it.
2. Survivors see the value in paying it forward
“Without survivors caring, without survivors giving up their time, without them being grateful, it would never work. If they weren't grateful, they wouldn't do this, but they’re grateful and they give back.”
People who have won their battles against cancer have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share with people at the beginning of their cancer journey. Because they have survived and overcome the worst, they often have the desire to pay it forward and help others get through the most difficult and uncertain time in their life. They empower by inspiring, encouraging, and giving hope to people in a way that friends and family members can’t always provide.
3. Teamwork makes social change possible
“The true definition of power is in the team, right? It’s the network that’s strong. No one survivor is strong but all of us together, we don't know who's gonna be the next call.”
This level of impact is impossible for one person to accomplish on their own. At Imerman Angels, the team of mentoring survivors makes sure that each person battling cancer, regardless of location and time zone, has the support they need. The power in numbers, and dedication motivates the mentors to continue to show up and make a difference.
4. Disability doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we
“Accessibility to me, the heart of it is inclusion. Including everyone, whether it’s someone that’s in the military and lost a leg from a landmine, whether it's somebody that had cancer and lost their leg from cancer.”
Improving accessibility and inclusion doesn’t just improve life for people who have always lived with disabilities. Most people don’t realize that for people undergoing cancer treatments, accessibility measures can be extremely helpful and prevent many difficult situations. For example, someone who feels weak from chemotherapy treatment can rely on a wheelchair-accessible shopping cart at the grocery store. Why a person is in need of an accessibility solution doesn’t matter. What’s important is building a society that simply includes everyone in every aspect of everyday life, no questions asked.
5. We’re all in this together
“It’s community, and people understand right at that moment when your life goes from walking to a wheelchair. You need people that are 5 or 10 years beyond you saying, ‘It's going to get better, you’re going to learn.’”
Mentors have a profound impact on the cancer patients that they’re supporting. As we said before, no one understands you better than someone who has a shared experience and when it comes to battling cancer, people who have been recently diagnosed need to be understood most of all.
Jonny’s Spotlight Session helped us understand inclusion and accessibility from a new perspective. Disability inclusion also applies to people who are fighting cancer because it does impact their abilities. If you want to watch more of our Spotlight Sessions series, you can find them all here.
If you are a disability advocate or have a nonprofit organization and want to share your story with the world, contact accessiBe’s Nonprofit Partnership Program so we can get to know you better.