Gaylord resident Ingrid Kehr has been selected as the Honorary Chairperson for the Sibley County Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
The event will be held at the Gaylord City Park June 9-10. The public is invited.
“I’m a little embarrassed but honored,” Kehr said. “I don’t consider myself a survivor, only if I die from something else.”
She is a breast cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in November 2003. She was considered to be cancer-free until being diagnosed with cancer in the brain and liver in September 2005.
Kehr is known to residents of the GFW School District as Mrs. Kehr. She has taught fourth grade for 34 1/2 years, first at the former Winthrop School District, and since the fall of 1987, at the Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop School District. Kehr has lived in Gaylord since 1973 with husband Jim.
Kehr is on her second journey with cancer. She was diagnosed in November of 2003 with breast cancer. She had two surgeries, a lumpectomy and a mastectomy, and also had chemotherapy. Her breast cancer was classified as the beginning of Stage 2, and she was told there was a slim chance for it to reappear.
Then about a year and a half later, Kehr was diagnosed again, when the same type of cancer appeared in her liver and brain. “I was diagnosed in September 2005, and I have been on chemotherapy since October of 2005.”
It was a pain in her side that drove her to make a doctor appointment last fall. The doctor never did find out why she had pain in that location.
She admitted, however, that she started feeling weaker last summer. She attributed it to the heat, because she was teaching summer school.
Kehr underwent high intensity radiation at the University to treat the tumors in the brain. It was through this procedure that she lost her hair. “I wish my hair would come back, but it probably never will,” she said.
She is continuing to undergo chemotherapy at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia on Wednesdays. “I have two weeks on, and one week off,” she explained. Plans are for her to continue the treatment as long as it is working. “The tumors are smaller, the thickness is down, and you can see through them,” she said.
“I never had a chance to tell my students when the cancer came back the second time,” Kehr said. She returned to the classroom half-time in January and February, and full-time for the fourth quarter.
When Kehr returned to teaching, her students were happy to have her back, but were also concerned about the substitute teacher for her classroom. She is continuing to substitute for her on Wednesdays.
Kehr is restricted to driving in Gaylord due to concern that she could possibly suffer seizures. When she taught half-time at GFW, she used Trailblazer Transit, which gave great service, she said. Now Sister Brenda of Gaylord, who also teaches at GFW, gives her rides to and from work.
“I’m not sick from the treatments, but tired from school activities,” Kehr admitted.
The support Kehr has received from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, students and parents has “been wonderful,” she said. The one time when she found out that the driver who was scheduled to take her for treatment was unable to, a friend called within 10 minutes who was able to do it.
“My strength is definitely coming back,” Kehr said.
“It’s not easy,” Kehr admitted. “Things are going so well, I forget about it. I don’t know how anyone can get through this without faith and friends. I have been on prayer chains from various churches.”
Ingrid and Jim Kehr have two sons, Chris and his wife Becky, and John, and one grandson.