By Kristi OHarran / Herald Columnist
Bonnie Krueger’s best wishes for a speedy recovery held special meaning. Though thousands of viewers were saddened to hear that KOMO-TV anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen’s brain tumor had returned, her friend in Marysville wept at the stunning announcement.
As I wrote in 2000, Krueger had the same sort of noncancerous tumor as Goertzen. The pair bonded and looked forward to the five-year magic mark when folks can take a deep breath if tumors hold off.
They both passed the miracle marker – actually, Goertzen was clear for seven years. The, the newswoman announced Sept. 16 that she was having surgery to remove, as much as possible, a brain tumor that had been slowly growing.
The news hit Krueger hard.
“They say five years,” Krueger said, “but you don’t get it in writing.”
Before Krueger saw a doctor six years ago, she experienced hearing loss in one ear, balance problems and some weakness in facial muscles, which gave her a crooked smile. Doctors discovered a tumor.
As Krueger absorbed the news, she connected with Goertzen, who left the air for several weeks to undergo surgery and radiation for the tumor. When they connected, they talked for an hour.
“She gave me information and encouragement,” Krueger said. “We talked about what to tell the kids.”
The pair are the same age, and have two children the same ages.
Goertzen told me five years ago that she communicated with others facing brain surgery. She knew after her first operation that doctors were not able to remove the entire tumor.
Via e-mail this week, Goertzen wanted to thank everyone for their support and e-mails.
“I can’t describe how much they’ve meant to me and my family,” she wrote. “I am happy to report I’m on the mend.”
She said surgeons accomplished more than they had hoped for. She has a big incision up the back of her neck and headaches, but is getting better every day.
“The hard part now is to be patient with the healing process. I wish I could fast-forward through this part. I just want you to know how much I have felt your prayers and support and how much they truly are appreciated.”
How terrible for Goertzen, to have the benign tumor grow, and for all others facing brain surgery.
“I’ve been very emotional since hearing about Kathi,” Krueger said, dabbing under her eyes. “The news really threw me for a loop.”
It hurt, she said, because they had both been doing so well. She said days go by when she doesn’t even think about the scar behind her ear.
Divorced for two years, the 47- year old works in the health room at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. She said she loves her job – surprisingly – because she fainted as a candy striper when she was younger.
That memory made her smile. Tears cleared, Krueger apologized for being emotional. Please make this an upbeat column, she said. She’s already bought her friend a sentimental get-well gift. The pair will no doubt go back to cheering for one another each year when medical scans are clear.
“There are lots of reasons to be positive about Kathi,” Krueger said. “It’s operable and benign.”