Recent GU – Appleton Graduate Didn’t Let Cancer Stop Her Motivation


Krystal, with her dog Angel

Krystal Duehning, a GU-Appleton graduate in the vet tech program, recently opened up about her bout with cancer and how her motivation and perseverance kept her going in her program instead of giving up.

Krystal was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma (skin cancer) in the summer of 2015 that had metastasized and spread to her blood stream. Instead of giving up on her schooling, she just rearranged her schedule. While it was not possible for her to finish her vet tech externship and be on chemotherapy at the same time, she was able to complete her externship at Pleasant Valley Veterinary Hospital one quarter later and graduate in December 2015.

Krystal was very motivated to finish schooling, despite having a 50 percent chance of survival. She said this inspired her more.

“What kept me going was my dream of graduating college and having my degree in a career field I love so much,” she said.  “I want to set an example for my 6-year-old niece and prove to her that anything is possible if you try hard enough. School work kept me busy during the chemo and kept my mind on track. The school was very flexible on letting me do my externship the next quarter and I always got smiles and people asked how I was doing which was nice to know that my school cared about my well-being.”

She went on to provide the following inspiration for fellow students and future graduates.

“It took enormous amounts of strength to keep going with the treatments because chemo is quite painful. But somehow I found the drive to continue to work and go to school,” she said. “I was very stubborn about sticking around to take care of my pets and watch my niece grow up. My dog Angel was always there to comfort me when I was sick and helped me to get up every day because I knew her life depended on me getting up and going to work to make enough to care for her. It was a tough journey but a very good reality check to put my whole perspective on the world into view and made me focus even harder on what I want out of life. Cancer definitely changed my viewpoint in life; it made me value the little things and hold my loved ones closer because life isn’t set in stone and you can’t always count on tomorrow.”

Krystal is now working at Burleigh Road Animal Hospital in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and has been cancer-free since October 2015.