Monday, December 7, 2009

LUNGS- (Learning, Understanding, Navigating, Growing, and Survivorship)

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending a day with Jonny Imerman of Imerman Angels . Jonny, who is a partner with UCF, is a complete inspiration for anyone fighting cancer or not. Jonny embraces and loves life and is a true motivator to do what you feel passionately about.

The day I got to spend with Jonny, we made a visit to The Cancer Institute at St. Joseph Medical Center to see Pamela Trombero a lung cancer survivor. Pamela had read Jonny's story and connected with his experience. The day of the visit they even realized they had the same chemo! The take away message of both Pam and Jonny's experience, as someone witnessing them connect, is that no one should ever be alone in a diagnosis. Both Jonny and Pamela felt alone. Now, like UCF, both Pamela and Jonny have devoted their lives to preventing anyone else from feeling the isolated during diagnosis, treatment, or as a survivor.

Here is, as Pam calls it, the short version of her story:

I was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer in March of 2006; three weeks before my 50th birthday. It is very unusual to be diagnosed with lung cancer at 49; most of the population is in their 60’s and 70’s when diagnosed. I wanted so badly to be able to talk with someone in my shoes who had been through chemotherapy and surgery to know what I was up against, but I found no one. Lung cancer survivors are hard to find.

Once I came back to work, I talked to Dr. Krasna about starting a support program for newly diagnosed or recurring lung and esophageal cancer patients. I think it took me 5 seconds to think up LUNGS (Learning, Understanding, Navigating, Growing, and Survivorship). The program is similar to Johnny’s program in that we match mentors with patients who have had a similar diagnosis. We also offer educational lectures throughout the year which have been well attended and are a great success.

I may have had to go through my treatments and surgery alone, but if I have anything to do with it, no patient will feel alone during his or her diagnosis and/or treatment. The program is a success and we are slowly but surely growing.

If you would like more information on the LUNGS support program you can can go to and click on the LUNGS program under calendar of events. You can also contact Pam directly at 410-337-4543.

It was a true honor to spend the day in the presence of two people so passionate and so full of life! I encourage you to at least further educate yourself about Jonny and Pamela's initiatives, spread the word, and continue to grow the cancer community!

Sarah Wainio, Volunteer Coordinator

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