My name is Joleen Krueger – I live in Minneapolis, MN. I am a 36 yr old mother of a 16 month old (Logan), and wife to my husband Dean (8 yrs). We learned I have stage IV colon cancer with liver/lung metastasis on August 18th, 2011. My son was just 10 months old at the time of diagnosis.
In the weeks leading up to my diagnosis my stomach felt “full” every time I ate. In the final days I could not eat (my stomach always hurt and I felt like I couldn’t process a meal). I went to the ER (August 5), but the doctor did not want to run a CT scan (even though the u/s showed spots on my liver) because of the amount of radiation I would be exposed to at a child-bearing age. I made an appointment with a local gastroenterologist for the following week. I was ordered an MRI and gastrografin barium enema. The enema resulted in finding a large mass in the upper 1/3 of my colon. I was immediately admitted to the hospital with surgery scheduled for the following day (my colon was 93% constricted, which was the result of my stomach pain).
The surgery went beautifully (tumor was removed entirely, clear margins, etc.) … but the battle was far from over. I learned later there are six liver lesions, and eight lung nodules. Following five cycles of FOLFOX, Oxaliplatin and Avastin the lung nodules have been reduced to two (3mm each, non-metabolic – my oncologist is not 100% the remaining nodules are cancer, but they are too small for a needle biopsy at this time) and my liver lesions have shown nearly 50% reduction in size. I am so thankful for my Oncology team – they are continuously baffled by diagnosis, given my age and no prior family history.
Here I am today – 6M later, and still going through chemotherapy, working part-time (80%), being a wife, raising a toddler and doing the best I can to continue the active lifestyle (running, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, etc.) that I had a year ago.
I fight every day to preserve the family we have created and to be here to see Logan graduate, go on to college, get married and hold my grand-babies.
We are not able to have additional children because of the chemotherapy regimen, which I mourn daily (conceiving Logan was a 7 yr process); however Logan being able to grow up with a Mom is far more important than having a 2nd child so we continue the fight … the fight to win … for me, for Dean, for Logan and for our families.
I look forward to seeing all of you at the GYRIG 5K in Edina, MN on May 20th!