No Weight Too Heavy: A Cancer Patient Lifts Up Others in Need
A fit, active and nutrition-minded single mom in her early 40s, Jennifer Kroll was shocked by her stage 4 metastatic melanoma diagnosis. Remarkably, Jennifer resolved to live life to the fullest, return to weightlifting and help others. Her campaign with a focus on weightlifting raised $11,520 for Cone Health cancer patients in need.
Jennifer Kroll and Mohamed K. Mohamed, MD. July 21, 2020
"Jennifer is a remarkable young and active cancer patient," says Mohamed K. Mohamed, MD, a Cone Health hematologist and oncologist. "While some people give up and succumb to disease, Jennifer not only did the heavy lifting of fighting for her life to be with her kids and have a normal life, but she asked, 'What can I do to help others? What can I do to inspire others?'"
In May 2019, the vegetarian and lifelong health advocate with a passion for weightlifting, suddenly found herself confused, disoriented and barely able to move. During a hospital stay, tests and scans revealed the unthinkable – stage 4 cancer had spread to her brain, left lung, left ovary and lymph nodes. She learned she might only have months to live.
While Jennifer recalls getting lots of sun as a child growing up on a farm, she was shocked by her skin cancer diagnosis, especially since she had yearly skin checks and had no symptoms. Since her early teens, she had cultivated a healthy, nutritious and active way of life. In a couple of weeks, she had gone from training on an Olympic weightlifting program to cancer treatments and exhaustion.
At first, Jennifer felt stunned and defeated: "I felt like everything I love was taken from me in an instant." Then, she had a realization: "I wanted to live my life to the fullest. I became determined to push through." She refocused on nutrition, supplements, fitness and overall health.
About 8 weeks following brain surgery, Jennifer's passion – and the necessary strength – for lifting weights returned. At first, she struggled to lift the 33-pound empty barbell. With determination, she slowly regained her endurance and carefully began lifting more weight. At the same time, scans showed her treatments were working. The cancer in her brain, lymph nodes and ovary was no longer detectable. While her lung mass was inoperable, it was shrinking.
Jennifer Kroll receiving treatment. July 21, 2020
Each time Jennifer went to the Cone Health Cancer Center, she was reminded of how lucky she was. She had good health insurance. She had a supportive employer. She was surrounded by people who loved and cared for her.
"Cancer has not pulled Jennifer down. She committed to taking care of herself and living her life," adds Dr. Mohamed. "At the same time, she recognized other cancer patients may not be so fortunate because of financial, social or other issues."
"Not everyone has access to the care, support and healthy options as I do. It's especially hard for those in underserved areas of our community," shares Jennifer. "No weight is too heavy when we all lift together, and it is essential that those who can lift commit to helping those who need our help now."
For 3 months, from July 15 through October 15, 2020, Jennifer continued weight training and worked to match her all-time personal record, a "clean" lift of 155 pounds. She chronicled her campaign on social media.
"For every $10,000 raised, we will help an average of 8 cancer patients in need," says Jennifer. "Whether it's money for nutritious meals, rent, transportation or utilities, cancer patients have enough to worry about. No one should have to choose between their health and basic necessities."
The final total raised for the Cone Health Cancer Center was $11,520.