Jonny Imerman

Adversity: Diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 26.

Advocacy: Founded Imerman Angels to support people affected by cancer.

“You start out in the beginning to help other people because it’s important with the short life we live. But somewhere along the way you realize it uplifts our spirit, helps us find peace and purpose.”

Jonny Imerman was a typical 26-year-old, working, exercising, dating, trying to determine his life path, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, but had a recurrence about two years later, as four tumors were discovered behind his kidneys. He had the support of his family and friends throughout. “I had all this support and love around me. My mom was great. My family was great. I had 10 people around me every day visiting me while I had chemo. It was a like a party,” he says. But something was missing. “I didn’t know any other young adult cancer survivors,” he says. “It’s a different conversation when you can look someone face to face: You’ve done this before? Tell me what I should know.”

Seeing what was missing from his support group, in 2003 Jonny created Imerman Angels ( to fill that gap for others. Imerman Angels provides one-to-one matches between those who are fighting or have survived cancer with others the same age and gender who have fought and survived the same form of cancer. Imerman Angels provides similar support for caregivers – spouses, parents, children and other family and friends of people battling cancer. To date, there is a network of 6,000 survivors and caregivers – the Angels – in 60 countries, having helped 10,000 people impacted by cancer. “People think they’re the only ones,” says Jonny, now 38. “They are so excited somebody else is out there surviving the same cancer. There’s an amazing bond – I’m such a believer in connecting on a shared experience.”

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