Taking Care of Your Health

You Don’t Have to Navigate Cancer Alone

November 11, 2020

Joel Courage 640

I first decided to seek help from Imerman Angels after representatives came to a Moffitt AYA and LLS monthly networking dinner. The gentleman speaker clearly knew what it is like to deal with cancer as he had survived more than one type of cancer. The organization and it’s peer-to-peer support structure sounded like a great resource to try out.

I contacted them and I was connected with another person with my exact type of cancer and an extremely similar treatment plan. At the time I was nervous about going in for a stem cell transplant. I didn’t know anyone in person who had gone through one. Speaking with my mentor on the phone helped me face that new frontier with courage.

It truly made a difference in my outlook and allowed me to push forward knowing I wasn’t entering uncharted territory alone. My mentor had been there and made it to the other side a better and stronger person. I knew I could do it too. 

I recently decided to give back to the organization by taking on the role of a mentor. I was matched with a young woman going through the same cancer I had been through. I had actually just been diagnosed as relapsed and was very much second guessing my ability to be a mentor. I thought “How can I encourage this woman when I barely feel like pushing on myself?”

Through my discussions with her, I found that to be a good mentor I didn’t have to know all the answers or feel any specific way. Simply by being there and listening to her concerns, I was able to help her. She wasn’t looking for someone to give her the magical solution. She just wanted to talk to another young adult having their life disrupted by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In an interesting way, I found that when I encouraged her, I felt encouraged. She likewise encouraged me and showed a genuine interest in my well-being.

I am fortunate to be quite involved in the Moffitt AYA program. Through this program and some others, I probably have a network of around 30-50 people who are either living with cancer or in remission. My mentee did not have such a circle. That is why she went to Imerman Angels. I’m glad that she did. Our weekly conversations have reminded us both just how much we’re capable of pushing forward and enjoying life with or without cancer.

If you’re considering getting involved in any capacity but aren’t sure if you’re ready. Well then, you sound like the perfect fit. Go connect with someone and know that you don’t have to navigate this situation alone. You and your future friend will both be glad that you did.

- Joel, 32