Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Susan Krigel and Breast Cancer Awareness

Former Clinical Ph.D. student Susan Krigel was featured on for her story on battling breast cancer and attending the Mother's Day Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Kauffman Stadium.

KANSAS CITY -- Susan Krigel, who served as the Royals' honorary bat girl at the Mother's Day breast cancer awareness celebration, had come full circle.

In 1973, when Kauffman Stadium, then called Royals Stadium, was opened she was marching in the Shawnee Mission East High School band in the ceremonies. On Sunday, she was back on the field for the first time since that day.

And this time the Royals were swinging pink bats, wearing pink sweat bands and, in some cases, running in pink shoes. It was all part of the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer Program by Major League Baseball and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Jeff Francoeur takes the field on Sunday with one of the honorary lineup of breast cancer survivors. (Chris Vleisides/Royals)Krigel's own battle with breast cancer includes a touch of irony. She was working for the Cancer Information Service when stricken.

"I was working there and decided I wanted to go to graduate school and become a PhD in clinical psychology and learn how to help cancer survivors adjust to the emotional aspects of having cancer," Krigel said. "And then I was diagnosed with cancer just after I was accepted into the PhD program. I went ahead and took the PhD program through my therapy and my surgery through the first year. I had a lot of good support from my husband, my kids and my friends, and my mentors at UMKC.

"It is ironic, but one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It was an office of 15, so statistically two of us at one point would be diagnosed with breast cancer."

She received a lot of help from her mentor, Professor Delwyn Catley of the University of Missouri-Kanas City, and the health care team at the University of Kansas Medical Center, including Dr. Carol Fabian.

She underwent treatment and surgery for about 1 1/2 years.

"I don't really look at it as beating it," she said, "because with breast cancer it can always recur. After five years you're not totally in the clear; statistically your chances of recurrence go way down, but with breast cancer it really can recur, so you just kind of look at every day and be thankful for that."

With her at the stadium on Sunday were her husband, former Kansas City jeweler Scott Krigel, sons Ari and Steven, and daughter-in-law Beth.

Today, she works for the KU Med Cancer Center.

"I care for cancer survivors on a daily basis," she said, "mainly breast cancer survivors but also other people living with cancer."

The Royals, joined by the Oakland A's in the pink-trimmed awareness effort, were well aware of the enormity of the disease.

"It's a great cause," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Luckily my mom didn't have breast cancer or anything like that, but I know so many people that do and I even get text messages after the game to say how important it is to see us supporting the cause."

He was among the players wearing pink shoes.

"It's going to look weird but they're auctioning them off and all the money goes to that cause, so it's not even a question for me," Francoeur said.

Stephanie Komen, daughter of the late Susan G. Komen, sat in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat. Pitcher Kyle Davies, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, was the honorary spokesman. The Royals took the field with each player accompanied by a breast cancer survivor.

In the end, 12 of the game's 18 hits were belted with pink bats used for the occasion. That included rookie phenom Eric Hosmer's first extra-base hit, a double high off the right-center wall, that produced his first RBI.

Many families have been affected by the disease.

"My wife Deborah's mom passed away from breast cancer, so it's near and dear to her heart," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"They do it on Father's Day for prostate cancer, too. It's two good causes and brings awareness to them."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs