Chance Encounter Saves a Mother’s Life


Within months of having a clear mammogram, a chance encounter with an observant nurse led to a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer for Amy Knapp that likely saved her life.  The nurse, Jacquie Stanzel noticed a lump in Knapp’s breast during an exam for something unrelated.  Their story highlights how our lives can change in a single afternoon.

Chance Encounter Saves a Mother’s Life “She had a mammogram. It came back completely fine. Three months later, a moment that would change Amy Knapp’s life forever.

“There are people around who can change your life in an afternoon,” said Amy Knapp, a breast cancer patient.

It’s a story of a mother – and the nurse who saved her life.

“It was kind of one of those moments where you take a step back and think, ‘What was that?'” said Jacquie Stanzel, an R.N.

Back in May, Amy Knapp went into Methodist Women’s Hospital for a routine procedure.

When she was in recovery, Stanzel felt something when she was hooking Amy up to monitors.

“I happened to feel on the lateral side of her breast, there was a lump.”

Stanzel waited for Amy to wake up. She asked if she could do a self-exam. 

The news was heartbreaking.

“She found three lumps that all turned out to be cancerous,” said Amy.

Amy was in disbelief. She had just had a mammogram three months before. It came back completely fine.

“If Jacquie hadn’t found it, it would have been another year because I didn’t have plans to see my doctor or have another mammogram,” said Amy.

Amy is married with three young kids. The news was tough to handle.

“I cried a lot and mostly just thought about my kids and how this was going to affect our lives,” she said.

Then, Amy went into fight mode. Her cancer was Stage 2. She had a bilateral mastectomy and began chemotherapy in September.

“In the present, it is hard. It has been a challenge but I think my family is stronger. My kids have been amazing. The support of my husband, my family, my friends.”

Amy says the entire Bennington Community has stood behind her. Her daughter’s Girl Scout troop made her a blanket. Amy also walked in the Susan G. Komen race this year with her family.

“It was inspiring to see all of the people that breast cancer has touched. Next year, I would love to be able to run it,” Amy said.

But for everyone who has stood behind her, there is one woman she knows saved her life.

A nurse-with 19 years experience – and a huge heart.

Jacquie says, “I’m just here to help people.”

“Although she thinks she was just doing her job…she did much more for me that day,” said Amy.

Amy’s final chemotherapy treatment is Tuesday, December 23rd. After that, she begins weeks of radiation.

Amy nominated Jacquie for the Daisy Award. Jacquie received it.

The DAISY Award is a nationwide program that rewards and celebrates extraordinary skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day. Nurses can be nominated by anyone, including patients, family members, physicians, supervisors or their peers.

Jacquie says she hopes this story will remind all women the importance of doing self-exams. She says helping Amy reminded her of why she became a nurse. Her passion is to help people.

Amy says there is no history of breast cancer in her family. Again, she is thankful Jacquie crossed her path that day.”

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