By Christine Healy
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Imerman Angels is a global non-profit organization providing free, one-on-one emotional support to patients, survivors and family members experiencing the challenges of cancer. Moffitt’s partnership with Imerman Angels provides an opportunity to establish one-on-one support for patients and caregivers. Loved ones are often in the background providing care for our patients but not always receiving the kind of support they need. Many caregivers put aside their needs while focusing on their loved one’s care only to realize later they are exhausted, overwhelmed and sometimes feeling resentful. These feelings are not easily shared with others who haven’t experienced this and may not understand. Having the ability to refer a caregiver to Imerman Angels for peer support is a wonderful resource. Below are examples of powerful connections made between caregivers during difficult times.
"When my wife was ill, she was surrounded by supportive people," said Glen from Ohio. "I am giving all this care and I am looking around thinking ‘who is taking care of me?’" A nurse from Glen’s team mentioned Imerman Angels and Glen signed up. He was matched with a caregiver mentor from Moffitt named Ken. The two describe their connection as immediate, texting and calling each other weekly. And two years later, Ken, having been diagnosed with his own cancer, still has Glen by his side.
Bill, another Imerman mentor from Moffitt, was paired with Moffitt caregiver, Anne, whose spouse had been diagnosed with the same advanced cancer. Bill’s wife had died, and Anne requested a peer knowing her husband’s path would be similar. "I feel like I’m on a roller coaster wanting to get off with no place to go. My emotions are up and down." Having Bill there to reassure her when Anne felt she needed it was a huge help.
Speaking with someone who walks a similar path and truly understands creates a safe space to express your thoughts and feelings. Imerman Angels also pair siblings, previvors, widows and widowers who request one-on-one cancer support.
To learn more about the Imerman Angels program, please contact the Social Work office at 813-745-8407 or visit ImermanAngels.org.