By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN Nearly one year ago, Cheryl Krueger was on a trip with her grandkids to Disney World. Four days into the trip, she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and given three months to live.
“The happiest place in the world, turned out to be the not-so-happiest place in the world,” Krueger said.
Cheryl’s daughter-in-law Rebecca remembers the trip “like it was yesterday.”
She and her husband, Alan (son of Cheryl and husband Darryl), had saved up to take their three children to Disney World, and grandma and grandpa wanted to share in the fun.
When the vacation began March 14, Cheryl was already not feeling well, and recalled having stomach pains.
At the time, Cheryl thought it may have been from the pain pills she was taking to endure the amount of walking she would be doing in theme park. Ten years prior, Krueger was involved in a car accident on her way home from Litchfield. The other car ran a stop sign, striking Krueger and shattering her leg.
She also had weight-loss surgery (to help with her leg) almost a year prior, and would have stomach cramps from that.
After four days of stomach pain, Cheryl knew it was something more, and had Darryl take her to the nearest hospital.
Later that night, she ended up in emergency surgery to remove her colon.
She was told her colon was four times larger than normal, and there was an obstruction.
“Let’s just say Minnesota health care is better than Florida’s,” Cheryl said, commenting on several issues that arose during her nine-day stay.
After surgery, Cheryl remembers the doctor expressing little sympathy, and telling her she had three months to live.
Cheryl remembers crying a lot, not wanting to tell the grandkids her prognosis.
The family arranged for her to be discharged and sent back home to get the post-surgery care she needed.
A long-time friend of Cheryl’s arranged for a Delta flight back home, and Cheryl said she was happy to be back in Minnesota.
Upon arrival, she met with a doctor from Chaska, Dr. Kumar, who gave her hope that chemotherapy could work.
“I already beat the odds,” said Cheryl, who has chemotherapy treatments every other week.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Cheryl added.
She credits the support from her church, family, and friends and all the small acts of kindness for keeping her strong and her spirits high.
“The little things go so far,” she said.
Ever since Florida, her son Alan calls her everyday on his way home from work, just to “chat” and see how her day went.
Also, every two weeks, Cheryl can count on a card in the mail from Darryl’s cousin. In it is a $5 bill and a note telling her to go buy some ice cream.
“I eat a lot of ice cream,” Cheryl commented.
Because of her weight-loss surgery, which is irreversible, and living with a colostomy, Krueger can only eat certain foods one of her favorite’s being ice cream.
Since her diagnosis, Cheryl has lost 140 pounds, but never lost her hair, though it has gotten thinner.
“I’m the only one out of the group (at chemotherapy) who didn’t lose their hair,” Cheryl commented.
Despite further review from her Minnesota doctor, who extended her prognosis two years, “now we don’t talk time,” Cheryl said.
“It’s just a number, same with ‘stage 4’,” she said.
Instead, she chooses to maintain a positive attitude.
“I am amazed how she won’t let her grandkids see her down and out, and no matter how much she is hurting and scared, the love she has for them is helping her stay positive and continuing to fight,” said her son, Alan.
“I know it hasn’t been easy on Cheryl, but you would never know it with her attitude and drive to always be there for the kids and to visit with her friends,” said Cheryl’s daughter-in-law Rebecca.
Benefit for Cheryl
A benefit for Cheryl Krueger will take place Friday, Jan. 30 at the Darwin Rod & Gun Club and will include a spaghetti dinner, silent auction, and a DJ.
The spaghetti dinner will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with tickets sold at the door ($10 for adults, $6 for children 10 and under).
The silent auction will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. with music by The Stacy Show from 8 to 10 p.m.
Donations are also accepted at First National Bank of Cokato.