Survivor's Lap Le Sueur

Cancer survivors at Le Sueur County’s Relay for Life last year take the first lap of the night. This year, Dave Krenik, a retired health teacher from Le Center diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, will speak as the Relay for Life’s honorary survivor. (Le Sueur County News File Photo)

Retired Le Center health teacher and cancer survivor, Dave Krenik, will be delivering a speech as the honorary survivor for the Le Sueur County Relay for Life on Friday, July 12. His message is that it can happen to anyone.

Krenik and his wife Mary Parkins-Krenik have been volunteering at the Le Sueur County Relay for Life for 22 years, but Krenik says he never thought that he would be a spokesman.

In February 2017, Krenik was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a fast-growing cancer that develops in blood stem cells, which are blood-forming cells that originate in the bone marrow and develop into red or white blood cells, or blood platelets. The cancer moves throughout the bloodstream and can spread into other parts of the body.

“It was like our world fell apart,” said Mary Parkins-Krenik.

Krenik started chemotherapy right away and the cancer went into remission two weeks later. However, Krenik’s body was no longer tolerating the chemotherapy after a second roun, so he was moved off of treatment early.

In the fall, Krenik began experiencing fevers of 104-105 degrees Fahrenheit. Doctors determined Krenik would require a stem cell transplant, which he received from his younger brother, Norby Krenik.

For the next few months, Krenik was feeling great, but eventually the transplant stopped agreeing with his body and he began having issues with his lungs and trouble breathing.

“My lungs will never recover to where they were before,” said Krenik.

Krenik, who used to be active in his free time, says he is no longer able to enjoy the activities he once did. Even just going outside while it is humid is no longer a possibility.

“It’s hard for us to see him inactive,” said Mary. “It’s discouraging and frustrating, but we’ve remained hopeful and optimistic.”

Though Krenik says that his life has become more difficult, he is doing what he can to maintain a positive attitude.

“You get grateful for every day you get,’ said Krenik.

Krenik says the big message he wants people to know is that anyone can be affected by it.

“It’s just genetic,” Krenik said. “And it takes a whole community, a big group of caregivers to help someone out.”

Krenik says his recovery is due to friends and neighbors who offered support and favors, and the support of his two daughters, his grandchildren and his wife Mary, who he called a “rockstar.”

The family is looking forward to the Relay for Life. Mary Parkins-Krenik chaired the Le Sueur chapter for over a decade and joined the organization after her mother had died from cancer.

“If you’ve ever been to one of these events, you know that once you get there it draws you in,” said Mary. “We’re grateful for the research the American Cancer Society does. The money they get is very well used.”

“I’ve been the beneficiary of so much research and treatment. It’s a great cause.” added Krenik. “Part of it is sad. You see the people who have gone through the battle with cancer, but part of it is happy. You’re seeing the community get together to support a good cause.”

The Le Sueur County Relay for Life will be held at the Le Sueur County Fairgrounds in Le Center beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, July 12.

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8572.

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