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    Procedure or Surgery (Implant chemotherapy port): A letter from Jonny Imerman
    I am a testicular cancer survivor. I was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in
    1975. When I was just a baby, my parents divorced, and we moved to a
    suburb of Detroit called Bloomfield Hills. I attended Cranbrook
    Kingswood School from kindergarten through high school. After
    graduation, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I earned a bachelor’s
    degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. After college, I
    returned to the Detroit area. I worked during the day while earning an
    MBA from Wayne State University at night.
    Suddenly, one Thursday morning in October 2001, my busy world came
    to a standstill. At 26 years old, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I
    couldn’t believe it, so I went to another doctor for a second opinion. He
    confirmed that I had cancer. The testicle was the epicenter of the
    disease. I went right into surgery. My left testicle was removed.
    Although the surgery went well, my visits to the doctor did not stop
    there. It soon became clear that the cancer had spread (“metastasized”)
    from the testicle. The disease was making its way up my body. The form
    of testicular cancer I had was a "non-seminoma." That means it was a
    mixture of many different types of cancer cells, as opposed to a
    "seminoma" tumor, which consists of only one type of cancer cell. Non-
    seminomas are much more aggressive and spread much faster than their
    counterpart.
    I knew what was nextchemotherapybut I did not understand what
    that meant. What is chemotherapy? What color is it? How will it make
    me feel? I called my brother. I started sobbing. I could barely talk. My
    world was shattered. But, I was not going to give up.
    My oncologist told me that the treatments might make me sterile. So, I
    went to a cryogenics laboratory to bank sperm. After that, it was time to
    start chemotherapy. My chemotherapy recipe was known as BEP:
    Bleomycin, Etoposide (aka: VP-16), and CisPlatin. My regimen included
    three cycles of chemotherapy. Each cycle lasted three weeks. One cycle
    included:
    Week 1: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday8 hours of
    chemotherapy each day
    Week 2: Wednesday2 hours of chemotherapy
    Week 3: Wednesday2 hours of chemotherapy
    The treatment weakened my body and wiped out most of my white blood
    cells. In fact, I was in such bad shape, the doctors were forced to delay
    my chemotherapy while my body recovered between cycles. In addition,
    the chemotherapy caused many side effects: throat sores, mouth sores,
    skin rashes, dry skin, cystic acne, extreme fatigue, hair loss, numbness in
    my fingers and toes, and partial hearing loss. But the most damaging
    side effect was a blood clot that developed in my left arm. The clot
    formed around my port, a medical implant that was an access point for
    my chemotherapy. The doctors had to remove my port, pull out most of
    the blood clot, and then pump me with blood thinners to break up the
    rest. With all the side effects and delays, the chemotherapy lasted for
    five months.
    At last, after all the treatment, I thought my fight was over. I slowly
    returned to the gym, started going out socially, and got back into life.
    Although I was happy to be alive, every day was a challenge. I did not
    have as much energy. I looked different. I struggled to find my post-
    cancer identity. Just as I was getting comfortable with myself, I learned
    the fight was not over.
    Nearly one year after chemotherapy, a routine CT scan showed four
    tumors along my spine. Rather than risk cutting the spine, the surgeon
    went in through the stomach. He made an 11-inch incision, placed my
    organs to the side, and took out each tumor. The surgery lasted for four
    hours. It was successful.
    Finally, I was freed from the disease and began my road to recovery.
    I made a vow to myself while I was on chemotherapy. I looked at others
    in the oncology clinic and realized that I was different. Each day, my
    room was filled with family members and close friends. With so much
    support, I did not have a chance to lose hope. However, in many of the
    other rooms, hope already seemed lost. As I walked down the hall with
    my chemotherapy IV-pole on the way to the bathroom, I saw other people
    fighting cancer alone. They were lying in bed, motionless, watching
    television or staring in space. Their only stimulation was a nurse
    checking in for a minute or two on the hour. I knew this was not right. It
    upset me. I felt guilty because I had so many good people and so much
    positive energy around me. I made a silent promise that if I were given
    life after cancer, I would help these people.
    So, how could I help? I walked into the other rooms, one at a time, and
    introduced myself. “Hey, what’s up, I’m Jonny. What’s your name? I have
    testicular cancer. What type of cancer do you have?” Many were older
    than me. A few were younger. Although they were exhausted just like
    me, everyone was friendly and welcomed my conversation. We shared
    stories, emotions, and opinions about many things in life. We all had our
    own type of the same disease. Some fought for themselves, others for
    their children, and yet others for a spouse. But no matter the motivation,
    we were all fighting for life. And I wanted to help them get it back.
    I wondered: “What if every cancer fighter could talk to a cancer survivor,
    who not only had beaten the same type of cancer, but who also was the
    same age and gender as the fighter?” The cancer survivor would be an
    angelwalking, living proof that the fighter could win too. What an
    amazing connection. This is why I created Imerman Angels.
    I want to thank “each” of you for taking the time to learn about our
    mission. The number one way to help is to connect us with cancer
    fighters and survivors. They are the lifeblood of our service. No one
    should fight this disease alone.
    I wish each of you well.
    Sincerely,
    Jonny Imerman
    Executive Director
    Imerman Angels
    P.S. I strongly believe that all charitable organizations must work together
    for the collective good. This is the only way to make the world a better
    place – we MUST all become friends and partner-up!! That is why I have
    served, or currently serve, on many other non-profit boards and committees.
    They are:
    Communications Committee for American Cancer Society Chicago; Associates
    Board of Gilda’s Club Chicago; Associates Board of Lynn Sage Cancer Research
    Foundation of Northwestern Memorial Foundation; Associates Board of Bear
    Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation; Associates Board of Kid Power; Associates
    Board of A Silver Lining Foundation; Auxiliary Board of the Center for Independent
    Futures; Executive Board of Right Angle Educational Foundation; Associates Board
    of Chicago Gateway Green; Annual Event Committee of the Young Leadership Division
    of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; Membership Committee of the
    Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA); Associates Committee and
    Membership Committee of the Standard Club Chicago; Executive Board of the
    BroadtreeAdventures Foundation; Junior Board of the Lookingglass Theatre Foundation;
    Cranbrook Kingswood Alumni Association; Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer's
    Foundation of America; Advisory Committee for Camp Kesem at Northwestern
    University (camp for kids whose parents have had/have cancer); Advisory Board of Carolyn’s
    Compassionate Children; Advisory Board of Voices of Survivors; Honorary Board of the H
    Foundation (Goombay Bash for Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Hospital); Executive
    Board of Jimmy Insulin (1on1 Diabetes Support!); Next Generation Leadership Advisory
    Council (NGLAC) for Chicago Olympics 2016; Advisory Board for MyOncoFertility.org;

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