Pam Ihmels and her family.

Survivor: Pam Ihmels

September 22, 2017

Every night before bed, 3-year-old Beckett says a prayer for his Grandma Pam to get better soon.

Beckett’s grandma Pam Ihmels was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. At the time, she was undergoing tests to donate a kidney to a close friend in need of a transplant.

Because of those tests, Ihmels’s cancer was found at stage 1, before the cancer had started to spread.

Ihmels underwent a lumpectomy, but there was still a possibility the cancer wasn’t gone. She didn’t want to take that chance and chose to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.

“I have two little grandsons,” Ihmels said. “I want to see them grow up and become fine young men.”

Ihmels also teaches physical education at Bismarck Public Schools and couldn’t imagine not being there for her students.

The past few months haven’t been easy for Ihmels. She has suffered from mouth sores, making eating and swallowing feel like razor blades in her throat. Then she was hospitalized for three weeks with an infection, pneumonia and fever spikes.

As her students headed back to school, Ihmels was in the hospital desperately hoping to get better soon.

“It has been really hard not being able to do the things I love,” Ihmels said. “I love teaching and to not be with my students during the first days of school saddened me.”

Through her struggles, Ihmels said, “I couldn’t have asked for a kinder, more considerate nursing staff. The staff all has been welcoming and personable. They met my needs and answered all my questions.”

She feels lucky to have excellent care close to home.

“I can’t imagine driving any distance for care,” Ihmels said. “I’m fortunate I live right here in Bismarck and have access to excellent care.”

She can stay close to friends and family like Beckett, who jumped into her arms when she finally came home from the hospital. Their support has been instrumental in helping her get through any bumps in the road.


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