MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Getting a diagnosis of cancer is a frightening experience, and for many people it’s the support of friends that enables them to remain strong and optimistic.
Pam Jette of Plymouth lost her battle with breast cancer last week, but friends and family say the way she chose to fight the disease is heartwarming.
In this week’s Life Story, we look at how the power of friendship gave Pam the strength to keep pushing.
She was known for always wearing lipstick and earrings, as well as a smile.
“These were some of her favorite words: ‘Come on over here honey’ and she’d put her arms around you and give you a big hug,” Pam’s friend Gayle Adair said. “She just filled me with confidence and accolades — warm fuzzies.”
Pam Jette’s journey through life included marriage and motherhood, and a long career in women’s health care. When she was 51, doctors diagnosed Pam with breast cancer.
The beautiful thing that came with the ugly news was the opportunity to join an elite group: the Dragon Divas. They’re women who share an ongoing fight with breast cancer and an amazing determination to win dragon boat races.
“Someone once said, ‘Off the water we all have breast cancer, but on the water we are athletes,'” Pam’s friend and fellow Dragon Diva Kath Jordan said. “We change completely when we’re on the water, and we’re there for each other. We sit side by side.”
Kathy and Gayle both paddled with Pam for years at practices on Lake Gervais in Little Canada, and in races across the state and country. A couple of weeks ago, Pam was only able to ride.
“And that is one of the things we do for each other. If you cannot paddle, we paddle for you. So she came for a ride on the boat that night,” Gayle said. “And it was a really good ride. It was windy. We were doing some great drills and things. She enjoyed every minute of it even though she didn’t feel well.”
“Her courage and her determination spoke so highly of her and I want her children to know how important she was to us,” Kathy said. “We all knew she was really struggling and working really hard to fight it up until the very end.”
Pam Jette was 56 years old. A celebration of her life is planned at her home in Plymouth this Saturday. It’s at the place where she and her husband got married 31 years ago.
The family says donations can be made to the University of Minnesota Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.