FRONTENAC — For the past six years Kenny Krumsick’s strength, motivation and will to live has been an inspiration to cancer patients.
After battling pancreatic cancer for years, he will celebrate another birthday on Tuesday.
The Krumsick siblings, Kay Gobl, Karen Gorentz, Kelly, Kenny, Kurt and Kevin Krumsick, have always been a close family. They were brought even closer by a gene related to cancer in the family.
“We have always been a tight knit family,” Kelly said. “This disease brought us closer.”
Kenny has spent time at clinics visiting with cancer patients, bringing them lunches and visiting with cancer patients while they receive chemotherapy.
“He is the most humble person you would ever meet,” Kay said.
According to his sisters, Kenny has been so motivational he has been invited to hospitals to inspire cancer survivors and patients.
This past Father’s Day weekend, Kenny spent Saturday with a family in Springfield, Missouri, who reached out to him because their family is dealing with pancreatic cancer. His sisters said he wanted to be there for that family — it was important to him.
“He has been a role model and mentor to those fighting the disease,” Kelly Krumsick said.
Kenny’s sister Kelly said about six years ago, the Kansas University Cancer Center told him he had pancreatic cancer and there wasn’t much anyone could do.
“They told him to go home and get his affairs in order,” Kelly Krumsick said.
Undaunted, Kenny went to the Mayo clinic where the doctors agreed to do surgery.
“They said he was 47, in good health,” Kelly said. “They said there’s no reason to not operate.”
Kenny began rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumors which had spread to his liver — he later had a surgery which successfully removed the cancerous part of his liver.
Kenny, who until recently worked on wind turbines, continued to work while on chemotherapy, by sending his prescription to local hospitals near his various job sites.
“His life never stopped,” Kelly said. “He has the most positive attitude and never wanted to be a burden.
“While he was in the hospital he would clean his room, take the trash out and make the bed,” she said.
According to his sisters, Kenny believed staying fit through his journey — both mentally and physically — it would help him be a better candidate for surgery.
“He works out every day at the recreation center to keep strong,” Kay said. “He doesn’t look like someone that has endured as much chemo as he has.”
The doctors found Kenny’s cancer was related to a gene called BRCA 2, which carries a higher risk of pancreatic, ovarian, prostate cancers and melanoma.
They didn’t find out it was genetic until his brother, Kevin, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago — Kevin lost his battle with cancer in March.
Kenny’s sisters said he was a good coach to Kevin and that both were good for each other as they went through chemo together.
“Neither of them ever complained,” Kay said.
The brothers, although both had pancreatic cancer, had different types — pancreatic adenocarcinoma and acinar pancreatic cancer.
Via Christi Cancer Center Medical Director Boban Mathew, M.D. said when most people think about pancreatic cancer, they think of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is 85 percent of pancreatic cancers.
Kenny Krumsick has acinar pancreatic cancer, which is rarer and more responsive to treatment.
According to his sister’s, Kenny’s last scan for cancer was this June, and nothing has changed and his counts are good.
The sisters laughed as they reminisced about a time while Kenny and Kevin were receiving treatment and Kevin squirted saline from his injector at his brother.
“Even in the darkest moments, they were joking around.” Kelly said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.