Jonny Imerman is a bit of a celebrity in the cancer community, and for good reason! After being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26, he founded Imerman Angels, a non-profit organization that carefully matches and individually pairs a person touched by cancer (a cancer fighter or survivor) with someone who has fought the same type of cancer (a Mentor Angel). Cancer caregivers (spouses, parents, children and other family and friends of fighters) also receive 1-on-1 connections with other caregivers.
When we sat down with Jonny, we asked him to weigh in on motivation, stress management and cancer. In line with the mission of Imerman Angels, Jonny believes that one of the best ways to motivate someone with cancer is to introduce them to someone who is was diagnosed with the same type of cancer, gender, age, etc., and is back to living a well-adjusted, happy life. Having a survivor who is able to “share their stories of strength, experience, and hope” can be imperative to helping someone who is currently dealing with the hardest parts of a cancer diagnosis.
But Jonny is realistic, knowing that just hearing other people’s stories may not be enough. Positive energy is also critical. And Jonny is one of the most positive people we know! So how does Jonny suggest maintaining positive energy? By surrounding yourself with fun, upbeat, positive people, because you are likely to absorb that energy.
Similarly, it’s important for people coping with cancer to manage their stress effectively. Jonny recommends trying a variety of different techniques to find the one that works best for you. For example, some people prefer getting a massage to exercising, meditation to seeing a therapist, or some combination thereof. (Side note: Triage Cancer will be hosting a webinar on “Don’t Stress the Stress in December).
The third key is connectedness. Jonny strongly believes that as human beings, we are social creatures, and it is important for people to interact and feel connected to others. Whether it be your family, friends, doctors, caregivers, etc., people are likely to feel more motivated when they feel a connection to others. If you need help finding that special connection, contact Imerman Angles to get matched today!
The one thing Jonny learned about cancer survivorship from his own experience is that it is important to know that there is a “beautiful life on the other side of the fence.” For a newly diagnosed cancer patient it is important to remember to find a way to laugh, even during the hardest times, and an Angel may help you do that!
Jonny believes that it is important for cancer survivors to share their stories with others because it brings awareness and it can save lives. As a member of Triage Cancer’s Speakers Bureau, Jonny is able to share his story and help to educate people and create awareness, while also being able to entertain and make people laugh. Jonny loves it when young adults talk to other young adults about cancer survivorship because it makes the experience more relatable. This peer-to-peer interaction allows for the speaker and the audience to connect on a deeper level.
Because we can’t be all work and no play, we had to ask about Jonny’s favorite movie. Interestingly, Jonny told us Lone Survivor, a story about four Navy SEALs who were on a covert mission to defuse a high-level al-Qaeda operative. Jonny says that it reminds him of how hard people fight to live, and how resilient the human body is. The fact that even though the Navy SEALs were outnumbered and came up against the impossible, they never stopped fighting, just like cancer survivors.