Kuhl's wife Amanda 'crazy selfless' amid battle with breast cancer

May 14th, 2023

A portion of this story appeared in Jessica Camerato's Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

WASHINGTON -- Chemotherapy began at 10:30 a.m. Twelve hours later, so did postgame fireworks.

Amanda Kuhl was at both.

“Fireworks!” she said with excitement during the game. “We’re here for fireworks tonight.”

Kuhl underwent her second round of chemotherapy in her battle against breast cancer on Friday morning. Her husband, Nationals right-hander , was with her at Sibley Memorial Hospital. That afternoon, Chad went to Nationals Park. Amanda, her mother and 2-year-old son, Hudson, joined him there shortly before first pitch.

A cancer diagnosis this offseason at age 30 had changed their worlds. She wasn’t going to let it take away a favorite family activity.

“Tomorrow, I’ll take my time and I won’t come to the game,” Amanda said. “But tonight’s fireworks, so we’re going to come to the game and we’re going to enjoy that because we enjoyed that last year. I know he’s going to have fun tonight.”

Amanda is currently undergoing chemotherapy. In mid-June, she will begin another 12-week round, followed by five weeks of radiation into the offseason. (Photo courtesy Kuhl family)

Amanda went to her annual gynecologist appointment this winter to talk about her young family. She and Chad were excited about a sibling for Hudson, and she wanted to discuss next steps. A routine check during the exam revealed results that abruptly changed the course for the childhood sweethearts.

“All of this for me started because we were talking about expanding our family to begin with,” Amanda said. “That’s why I went to my doctor -- we were planning for baby number two this season. That’s why my doctor did my annual visit when she did. During that annual visit is when she found the lump.”

Amanda received a breast cancer diagnosis in late January. She went into battle mode. She was going to fight -- for herself, for her family and for others.

"She never once gave off the impression that she was going to be overwhelmed," Chad said. "... We got a string of bad news I feel like every time we went to the doctor. It takes a really strong person to keep moving forward even though things aren’t going your way."

Chad was only weeks out from Spring Training in West Palm Beach, Fla., with the Nationals, with whom he signed a Minor League deal. Amanda had a long medical road ahead, including a double mastectomy and lymph node removal. And still, her message to Chad was, go to camp and be successful.

“Normal life wouldn’t normally have a 30-year-old going through a cancer battle,” Amanda said. “But if I can just help maintain a sense of normalcy on Chad’s end -- that’s what I did throughout my pregnancy, that’s what I did through Hudson being a newborn -- if I can keep maintaining that normalcy as much as I physically can, I’m going to do that because that makes his life easier because he only has so many months to throw a baseball.”

Having known Amanda since they were 10 years old growing up in Delaware, Chad wasn’t surprised by her unwavering support. He admired the way she navigated her path to becoming Miss Delaware 2016 with a disciplined schedule and determination, all while thriving under the pressure of the spotlight. She was going to take the same approach to the diagnosis.

“She wanted, selflessly, whatever she was going through wasn’t going to affect me in any way,” Chad said. “She’s crazy selfless in that regard. That was her big driving point.”

Chad reported to Spring Training with the Nationals. He left camp to surprise Amanda when she underwent a double mastectomy. A few days later, Chad returned to fight for a roster spot and earned a role in the starting rotation. At the same time, Amanda fought toward the next steps in her treatment.

Amanda’s treatment schedule runs through the baseball calendar. Friday’s chemotherapy session was her second of four bimonthly appointments. In mid-June, she will begin a 12-week round, followed by five weeks of radiation into the offseason.

Before she began chemotherapy, Amanda completed the egg freezing process so she and Chad could have the option to grow their family in the future. Chad was on the road with the Nats for most of the 10 days while Amanda went through the arduous routine of self-administering fertility shots: mix the medications, find a spot on her stomach that wasn’t bruised from the previous day, insert the needle, repeat.

“As a young family trying to think about continuing to grow our family, it’s one of those heartbreaking things because we were hoping and praying that our family would grow hopefully by this offseason or shortly thereafter,” said Chad. “That was a tough blow to us. To see her go through the egg saving and fertility treatments and to see her stab herself once a night, it’s something that I don’t think I could do myself. You see that strength in her because it’s almost like just another thing that she was going to do, and it wasn’t something that she was going to complain about.”

"Obviously, expanding our family has to wait until I’m done and my doctor gives me the all clear, but that’s what all this started from was baby number two.” (Photo courtesy Kuhl family)

Amanda has been transparent on her social media since her diagnosis, and she chronicled her fertility journey on her Instagram, too. It was important for her to show all aspects of the treatment.

“It was important to me, first of all, so people knew to do their self testing, because I wasn’t,” Amanda said. “But other than that, I just wanted to share what a 30-year-old going through chemo is. That involves, if you want to continue expanding your family in the future, some type of preservation, including egg preservation, fertility treatments, whatever have you. I’m also doing ovarian suppression during my chemo. … Obviously, expanding our family has to wait until I’m done and my doctor gives me the all clear, but that’s what all this started from was baby number two.”

Being a mom drives Amanda every day. The toddler with the blonde curly locks motivates her to push forward on the challenging days and inspires her when she thinks ahead.

“Having Hudson at home throughout all of this has honestly been what’s driving me every day, because you can’t sit back and wallow in a diagnosis when you have a 2-year-old living life,” she said. “... Hudson is truly why I get up, and he’s even why I even get up and go out of the house for adventures on days I don’t quite feel like it. … He’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. He’s why I’m battling the way I am.”

Chad lauded Amanda for being an “amazing” mother. He noted her elite “sprint speed” for the way she bolted out of bed when Hudson woke up in the middle of the night on days Chad was starting. Now, she brings Hudson to watch Chad pitch at Nats Park, including the day after her first chemotherapy treatment.

“Just got to get through it so I can see what happens in the future,” she said. “See Hudson go to school, got to get through it. Got to get through the shots to even get to baby number two. That’s the mentality. Just keep pushing through. Just keep swimming.”

She paused, then laughed, “He’s in a Nemo phase.”

Amanda has teamed up with Washington Nationals Philanthropies to "strike out cancer" by raising funds and awareness for breast cancer treatment and research. (Photo courtesy Kuhl family)

It’s with that smile and magnetic personality that Amanda has been raising breast cancer awareness. She didn’t know anyone of a similar age when she was diagnosed -- now she has a network and wants to build the same for others.

“If I can help in any capacity as well, why not?” she said. “We have a platform; use it.”

Amanda and Chad launched the “Cancer Isn’t Kuhl” campaign on April 28 in partnership with Washington Nationals Philanthropies to benefit Breast Care for Washington DC and The Previvor. They have raised over $30,000 for breast cancer research and treatment in the first two weeks.

On Mother’s Day, Nationals significant others will host a Favorite Things basket raffle in the Center Field Plaza, and proceeds from the Nationals’ 5050 Raffle also will benefit the organizations. The team will recognize Amanda in the pregame ceremony, where she will throw out the first pitch to Chad.

“She wants people to get their mammograms yearly,” Chad said. “She wants people to do their yearly physical. She wants people to have that information available to them and have that service provided to them, regardless of your ability to pay. … Hopefully, she’s opening some eyes and she’s going to hopefully be a helping hand in whatever people are going through.”

Amanda doesn’t plan on slowing down her advocacy, either. When asked about the level of awareness the couple has achieved in a short period of time, Chad quickly interjected.

“What she has raised,” he said. “She’s done great things so far.”

"Hudson is truly why I get up, and he’s even why I even get up and go out of the house for adventures on days I don’t quite feel like it." (Photo courtesy Kuhl family)

The Kuhls attended the postgame fireworks on Friday night. Amanda posted a video of Hudson excitedly watching the sparkling display while wearing a mini Kuhl uniform. She ended the day that began at the hospital with a moment her family will cherish at the ballpark.

Said Chad, “To be Hudson’s mom and give him 10 minutes of fireworks, she’s going to get him ready and come to the game and just be there and be a mom tonight.”