Robin Kroymann, cancer survivor

Robin Kroymann knows cancer. She’s beat it twice. A routine mammogram found her breast cancer early, making treatment easier than it might have been, Kroymann said.

CLINTON — Robin Kroymann feels lucky. She’s survived cancer twice.

“I’m a cancer survivor for breast cancer and tongue cancer,” Kroymann said. “I just finished my treatments in February.”

Kroymann’s breast cancer was small and easily treated, she said. “I just did my routine yearly mammogram last October.” In November, the radiologist told her a couple of areas looked suspicious.

Dr. James Olney agreed that one spot looked suspicious. He suggested a biopsy and ultrasound. He told Kroymann there was only a 3% chance that the lump was cancerous.

But it was.

Kroymann had mixed feelings about the diagnosis, she said. She was surprised and in disbelief. “I’d already had cancer once. I wasn’t expecting to draw the cancer card again.”

The doctor scheduled surgery right away. The first week of December, Kroymann had a sentinel lymph node biopsy and lumpectomy.

A sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer cells are most likely to spread from a primary tumor.

In January, Kroymann began 21 radiation treatments under the care of Oncologist Anoop Aggarwal and Radiation Oncologist Mark Dion.

The tumor was “very, very small,” Kroymann said. “Probably smaller than a pea.” She couldn’t feel it, but a mammogram picked it up.

“I was feeling bad and feeling very unlucky, and yet I am very lucky because I have survived both of them very well.”

Compared to the radiation treatments she endured for tongue cancer in 2015, “this was a breeze,” Kroymann said. “It’s not as hard on you as when they do head and neck.”

Kroymann was thankful that the cancer wasn’t a recurrence in her mouth. “I felt really confident. I was really confident in who I had treating me,” she said. “The three of them are a fantastic breast cancer ... team.”

Kroymann was glad she could take her treatments in Clinton. She had to drive to Iowa City every day for 33 treatments for tongue cancer, she said.

In September of 2015, doctors removed 15% of her right lateral tongue and took 33 lymph nodes and saliva glands from her neck, Kroymann said. “I had to have teeth pulled because they didn’t think [the teeth] would survive the treatment.”

She underwent radiation in February and March, every day except Saturday and Sunday. “Family and friends organized drivers for me for every single day,” Kroymann said. So many people volunteered to drive her that many never got the chance.

With her breast cancer, Kroymann took a few minutes out of her day to go to treatment. Then she went back to work.

“Sometimes you hear [that] mammograms won’t pick up lesions, but this one did,” said Kroymann.

Earlier in her life, Kroymann didn’t have mammograms as often as doctors suggested, but the last 10 years, she’s followed medical recommendations. A cousin and an aunt on her mother’s side have had breast cancer, so Kroymann gets a mammogram every year.

Finding the cancer early made treatment easier and the outcome favorable, Kroymann said.

A registered nurse, Kroymann graduated from nursing school in 1992 and began working in the operating room at Mercy Hospital. In 2008, she took a position with Medical Associates. She worked at Gateway Surgery Center until December 2019. Medical Associates became part of MercyOne in July 2019.

Kroymann is now clinic nurse for General Surgeon Moustafa El-Khatib.