Mentoring program supports cancer patients

No one should have to fight cancer alone, organization says


Jordyn Goodman

Jordyn Goodman

Battling cancer is a personal experience, often difficult for others to understand, says Jordyn Goodman of Calabasas.

Goodman recently became regional director of Imerman Angels, an organization that helps cancer patients and caregivers obtain one-on-one support from cancer survivors.

Founded in 2003 by Jonny Imerman, the nonprofit group matches a person seeking cancer support with a “Mentor Angel,” a person who is the same age, same gender and who has faced the same type of cancer.

Imerman, a 2012 CNN Hero, was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 26. Though he had loving support from his family and friends, he wanted to find someone to talk to who was familiar with the experience, which led to his founding the organization.

Goodman, a health and wellness advocate, hosts a weekly radio show on L.A. Talk Radio, “Empowered: A Young Woman’s Guide to Staying Smart and Staying Healthy for Life.”

Over the past six months, she has interviewed well-known oncologists to talk about cancer awareness and detection.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand how devastating (cancer) can be,” said Goodman, whose uncle and father both died of the disease.

As a radio show host, Goodman said, she strives to teach others about cancer prevention and detection. She also seeks to provide information and options for her listeners through interviews with professionals.

Goodman learned about Imerman Angels last November and opted to leave her job as a professional assistant for natural health advocate Suzanne Somers to lend her voice to the cause.

“So many people in our community are being affected by cancer every day, and to be able to work with an organization that provides support for them is truly a dream come true,” said Goodman, who became the regional director of Imerman Angels last week.

The service is free and helps anyone anywhere who has been touched by cancer.

“As regional director, Goodman will help us to spread the word of what we do” said Hector Nuñez, chief operating officer for Imeran Angels.

In addition to matching cancer patients with survivors who had the same type of treatment and the same type of lifestyle, the program also helps caregivers.

Frequently, caregivers experience feelings similar to those of the person facing cancer. Mentor Angels are sensitive to the experience and situation.

“They can relate to each other and help each other cope,” Nuñez said. “We’re creating a big cancer community.”

Nuñez, a stage 4 throat cancer survivor, benefited from the mentoring program.

He worked in the hospitality industry and was training to do an Ironman competition when he was diagnosed with cancer. He registered with the Imerman Angels program and was partnered with a man who faced similar circumstances.

“He helped me tremendously. I can’t tell you how it changed my perception of survivorship. Instead of just surviving, I was able to live again,” Nuñez said, adding that his mentor provided encouraging words when he needed it most.

Imerman Angels has over 6,000 mentors in 41 countries. Some mentors and the people they’re paired with are able to meet in person, but most communicate via Skype, smartphones and other social media because they don’t live in the same area.

Nevertheless, patients and their mentors often develop lifelong relationships.

“It’s very simple what we do, but it’s amazing,” Nuñez said.

While personalized oneon one cancer support is the primary focus, Goodman said, fundraising is necessary to ensure the organization has the resources it needs to carry out its mission.

“My goal is to create awareness and inspiration. The more people that know about our mission and service, the more people we can help and inspire,” Goodman said.

In addition to forming a local advisory board to reach out to the community and organize fundraisers for the Imerman organization, Goodman hopes to partner with other organizations that work to fi ght cancer.

She also wants to collaborate with corporations and businesses that can sponsor events or provide support for employees battling the disease, and work with local hospitals to make mentors available to more patients.

Mentor Angels have partnered with patients at Mount Sinai in Los Angeles, USC Norris Cancer Center and City of Hope.

The Imerman program is a lifesaver, said Deanna Schultz, a breast cancer survivor from Los Angeles who benefited from and now participates in the mentoring program.

“When I was going through my breast cancer journey . . . I had some really challenging times. I was recommended to Imerman Angels, and when I called they provided a caring voice on the other side. Within days, they put me in touch with a mentor locally. That mentor has been such an inspiration to me,” said Schultz, an assignment desk manager at MundoFox National News.

Goodman is organizing a fundraising event in March and hopes to host a gala in October.

To learn more about the mentoring program, visit www.imermanangels.org.


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