Two years ago, the day before her 16th birthday, Ashley Krueger was trying on a dress for her party when her mother, Pat Myers, noticed a golfball-sized lump on her left shoulder blade. The Sarasota Military Academy student had been complaining of shoulder pain for a few weeks, but she and her family assumed it was due to an injury from a recent SMA Raiders exercise, in which she and a teammate ran several miles while carrying a telephone pole.
After seeing a doctor, Krueger and her family learned the lump wasn’t a sports injury; it was Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. During the Raiders exercise, the weight of the pole had cracked her weakened bone and exposed the cancer.
“We never dreamed it was cancer,” says her mother, Cindi Krueger. “We never could’ve imagined. If it weren’t for the injury, we wouldn’t have discovered it until much later.”
Following her 2011 diagnosis, Krueger underwent a year of chemotherapy at All Children’s Hospital, in St. Petersburg, and she had her left shoulder blade amputated at the Moffitt Cancer Center, in Tampa. Despite the intense treatment and her weakened condition, Krueger continued to attend school as much as possible.
Krueger’s parents have been impressed with their daughter’s determination and positive outlook.
“It’s mind-over-matter with Ashley,” says Myers. “Her sense of humor and her stoicism is incredible. She’s stronger than both of us.”
“I try not to let it take up space in my head,” adds Krueger. “I joke that I let them do the worrying.”
After treating Ewing’s, Krueger began training with Heather Butcher at Chiropractic Sports Medicine, in Venice, to be able to return to her favorite activities, such as running and Raiders. But, only six months after treatment, her training came to an abrupt stop. At a regular screening, Krueger’s doctors discovered a 7-inch tumor attached to her heart, which they determined was inoperable. Krueger had T-cell lymphoma, another rare form of bone cancer.
“The doctors didn’t even know how to treat it,” said Myers. “This has never happened before. T-cell lymphoma has never followed Ewing’s — especially not that quickly.”
Doctors responded with an extremely aggressive chemotherapy treatment, which only lasted four months, due to its taxing effects on Krueger’s body.
Now, she is awaiting a bone marrow transplant March 25, which will result in more than a year of being quarantined in her home. Cindi Krueger and Myers are in the process of creating a sterile environment in their home.
Friends and neighbors have also volunteered to help with the remodeling. Myers says she’s amazed with people’s willingness to help.
Butcher has also organized a fundraiser party Saturday, March 9, at Fit2Run, in University Park to benefit Krueger and the family’s medical expenses.
“The community has been unbelievable,” says Myers. “If it weren’t for the people in the tri-county area, we wouldn’t have this roof over our head right now.”
IF YOU GO
Ashley Krueger Fundraiser
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9
Where: Fit2Run, 8249 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park
What: This fundraiser party will raise money for Ashley Krueger’s upcoming bone marrow transplant and related expenses. The party will feature raffles with three levels of prizes.