Wahpeton family faces first holiday season after death of mom who guided son through cancer fight

"It was really amazing, you don't think about the small things. When I was in the hospital, I didn't think about it, yes, my mom was with me but now that she is gone, it hits you that all the time you were spending with her, it was precious time," Jacob says.

'It was precious time' Wahpeton's Jacob Petermann battled cancer and now lost his mother
Jacie, Tim, Connie and Jacob Petermann.

WAHPETON, N.D. — A Wahpeton woman who always put family first and guided her son through a tough cancer battle was being remembered over the holiday weekend. Connie Petermann died unexpectedly at the end of October.

"(It's the) first time being without Connie and not having her around," Tim Petermann said.

Thanksgiving week was not like any other at the Petermann home; the family's glue was missing.

Connie's husband of 25 years, Tim, weeks ago found himself performing CPR on Connie after her heart stopped. She was just 51. That moment of loss has changed the lives of her husband and two children.

"You are looking at a whole new journey for us, where we are going to go in life and what is going to happen to us," Tim said.


For the last couple of years, WDAY News followed the story of Connie's son, Jacob Petermann. He's 20 and in college now, but when he battled cancer and lost a leg, it was his mother Connie who helped.

"...And just kind of connecting, I got to know her more, she got to know me more," Jacob said.

Nurses called Connie the momma bear.

"It was really amazing; you don't think about the small things. When I was in the hospital, I didn't think about it. Yes, my mom was with me, but now that she is gone, it hits you that all the time you were spending with her. It was precious time," Jacob said.

That protective mom was nothing to mess with, when she expressed anger in a court case that gave two people probation for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Jacob's cancer benefit fund.

Connie was always there, defending and advocating for Jacob.

"We should appreciate what we have every day because, even with my situation, you don't know what will happen," Jacob said. "I never used to say 'I love you' to my parents, when I left the house. Just the small things that matter so much."

Jacob and his sister, Jacie, said they learned so much about compassion from their mom. Both nurses that helped Jacob on his cancer journey have kids that are going into nursing.


Jacob's goal is to return to the hospital that took care of him through his cancer fight, the Masonic Children's Hospital in Minnesota.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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