For Helena Cancer Patient, Benefis Gift of Life Housing is a ‘Godsend’

After a lifetime of health, Ingrid Inman began suffering from an aching back and hip. When she met with an orthopedic doctor and he gave her a hug before her diagnosis, Ingrid knew bad news was coming. She was right.

Ingrid had stage 4 bone and lung cancer. She had as few as two weeks to live – if she made it off the operating table. 

That was more than two years ago. Ingrid immediately began massive doses of chemotherapy. What followed was bowel necrosis, surgery, much more chemotherapy, radiation, hospice for a while, fluid around her heart, seizures, adrenal issues, three brain tumors, and double vision.

“All my cancer is arrested. It’s not gone. It won’t be, but it’s not growing,” she said. “It’s unpleasant, but not so much I don’t want to keep going.”

Fatigue has accompanied her condition, and that makes the drive to Great Falls and Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute a challenge, especially as her husband continues to work. 

To learn more about Gift of Life Housing or to support the patients who use it, click here.

Ingrid, 79, is a frequent guest of Benefis Foundation’s Gift of Life Housing. Because of donor support, staying at the Gift of Life houses on Benefis’ East and West campuses or in the RV parking lot is free. 

“It’s helpful for my finances and my physical well-being,” she said. 

Ingrid stays at Gift of Life the night before infusions. 

“I get pretty tired,” she said. 

“Gift of Life has been a godsend,” she said. “It would have been really hard if we had to drive here and back in one day. I appreciate that it’s so clean, and everything is geared to make you relax and to take the anxiety out of things. When we come, it’s quiet time.”

The Gift of Life housekeepers and the “wonderful” Sletten Cancer Institute nurses, doctors, and other staff are “extremely supportive,” Ingrid said. “They’re genuinely interested in your well-being. It’s a circle of support. People know you and want to know how you’re doing.”  

In the spring and summer, Ingrid, a former nurse, enjoys sitting outside in the gardens between Sletten Cancer Institute and Gift of Life Housing. She tries to stay active and walk around the area as far as she can manage. 

“I’m not ready to go,” she said. “I still have things I want to do.”