Going the Distance

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How far would you go to receive the best medical care possible? If you were facing a breast cancer diagnosis, there is likely no distance too far.

That was the mindset 34-year-old Amanda Krueger had when she made the more than two hour round-trip drive from Manitowoc to Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee every week.

“It’s a true testament to how great they are there,” Amanda says. “Even though I was so run down, I would still come down to Ozaukee because I knew I was getting awesome care. When you’re going through something like breast cancer, that’s all that matters.”

Amanda’s cancer journey began in July 2013 when she discovered a lump in her right breast. Like most women in their early 30s without any family history, she didn’t think much of it. But at her husband’s urging, she went to a doctor.

“The doctors didn’t think much of it either, but he ordered a mammogram and ultrasound just in case,” she says. “During my ultrasound the doctor said, ‘It’s breast cancer.’”

The official diagnosis would come after a biopsy was performed a couple days later: stage 3C breast cancer, lymph node positive.

Within a couple days, her multidisciplinary care team assembled and got to work.

Peggy Long, a nurse navigator at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee, reached out to Amanda and started coordinating her treatment plan. “Peggy called me right away, which really made me feel much better,” Amanda says. “When you hear you have breast cancer, right away you think it’s a death sentence. But after I met with my team, I thought, ‘I can beat this and I will beat this and I know I’ll be helped along the way.’”

Amanda started out with an eight-week course of chemotherapy to shrink the 7-centimenter tumor. That was followed by surgery in December to remove the tumor and her lymph nodes and then another 12-round course of chemotherapy. In May she started radiation and underwent reconstructive surgery. Her final radiation treatment was on Friday, July 24.

Today, Amanda is doing great and cancer-free. Her doctor appointments have gone from monthly to every three months, and while she is thankful to have her health back, she does miss seeing the Columbia St. Mary’s staff.

“I appreciate my health every day and all those who helped me get here,” she says. “Life is good.”


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