A strong support system is highly encouraged for individuals facing cancer, and their caregivers. A new program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center provides individual mentoring to patients and caregivers to provide additional support through the cancer journey.
The Imerman Angels Ambassador Program partners with the University of Colorado Cancer Center to provide 1-on-1 mentoring. The program matches individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, with a cancer survivor or caregiver who has experienced the same cancer diagnosis. Once a match is made, the mentee and mentor can email one another, talk on the phone or meet face to face. The mission of Imerman Angels is to provide personalized connections for 1-on-1 support among cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.
Founded in 2003 by Jonny Imerman, a testicular cancer survivor, the program has provided free “mentor angels” to thousands of individuals facing cancer all around the world. It allows individuals at any stage in their cancer journey and their caregivers to ask personal questions and get support from someone who has been in the same situation.
“At University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) and CU Cancer Center we value whole person centered care,” says Darcey Sypolt, coordinator of the psychosocial oncology program at UCH. “In an effort to broaden the support services available to our patients, families, and caregivers we have partnered with Imerman Angels to offer a new, innovative program to match our patients and anyone in their support network with another person who has experienced what they are currently going through on their cancer journey.”
Kaitlyn Cavanaugh is the Imerman Angels Ambassador for Colorado and an occupational therapist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has her own personal reasons for becoming Colorado’s Ambassador: at 21 years old Kaitlyn was diagnosed with stage I melanoma.
“It was a stroke of luck that they found the spot on the back of my leg,” she explains. “Luckily, we caught it early and I did not have to endure very harsh treatments.”
Kaitlyn received an outpouring of support during her treatment but always felt that something was missing.
“I did not know anyone who had gone through a melanoma diagnosis, let alone someone that had been diagnosed with cancer at 21,” she says. “Looking back I wish I would have known about the Imerman Angels program so that I could have had the support of another survivor who had experienced a similar cancer journey.”
Now 26, Kaitlyn is a cancer survivor and deeply involved with bringing the program to cancer survivors in Colorado.
“For me being involved in the program is a way to give back to others and make sure that no one has to go through cancer alone,” she explains.
With help from the Cancer Center staff at the University of Colorado Hospital, Kaitlyn hopes to spread the word about Imerman Angels through events like “Sweet Treat Socials”. During the socials, individuals can come to munch on treats and learn more about the program. She will also be available for patients to speak with most Fridays.
“Eventually I would love for the program to expand to other cancer centers and hospitals in Colorado to ensure that no one faces cancer alone,” Kaitlyn explains. “For now, if we can make a difference in even one person’s life it will mean the world.”
For more information about Imerman Angels, or if you are interested in receiving support or becoming a mentor visit www.imermanangels.org.