Meet Jodie Imel

Jodie is a 47-year-old breast cancer survivor from Louisville, Kentucky.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and an Assistant Fire Marshal in a suburban fire protection district.  My husband, Mitch, and I have been married for 24 years and are the proud parents of our 21-year-old son, Layne.  Because I work in a male-dominated industry, I started Firefighters For A Cure as an awareness and fundraising organization in the fire service.  This is our third year.  Besides speaking to others – men and women alike – about early detection and its importance in surviving all cancers, I enjoy making and selling jewelry.

When were you diagnosed?
My first diagnosis was in March 2000; my second in October 2007.  I was actually two hours late to my first day of this job because I was at the doctor’s office undergoing a needle biopsy.  When I told my chief I was going to need surgery and chemotherapy, he took it to the firefighters to whom I was a stranger.  But, in the fire service, stranger or not, we care for our own.  My brand new fire department family donated 200 hours of their sick time to me so my family and I would not have to worry about financial issues while I was working on getting well.  Their wives even started a dinner train so my family wouldn’t have to worry about meals while I was in the hospital!

How has cancer changed your outlook on life?
Having cancer – twice – has brought more to my life than it will ever take.  Because of the cancer, I have met so many wonderful people and done so many things I would never have done.  Breast cancer brought me Firefighters For A Cure and the opportunity to talk with men and women about the importance of early detection.  These discussions have prompted many to go for those screenings they kept putting off.  After telling my story a class at the National Fire Academy, one of the instructors scheduled a colonoscopy for when he returned home.  This decision most likely saved his life.

What words of encouragement would you share with others with cancer?
I always say it’s in the telling of our stories where we’ll make the most difference.  Thank you, SouthernLiving.com, for telling our stories.

Support this non-profit in honor of Jodie: 
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Firefighters For A Cure for Louisville 
Please support those battling breast cancer by donating.