Shara Fryer has cancer

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Hottoddie, Apr 24, 2002.

  1. Hottoddie

    Hottoddie Contributing Member

    Jun 27, 2000
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    Fortunately, they seem to have caught it in time. I wish her the best of luck.

    KTRK anchor Shara Fryer battling cancer

    Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle TV Critic

    Shara Fryer has colo-rectal cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

    "The outcome is going to be good, because I caught it early," said the KTRK news anchor.

    "She's doing very well," said Dr. Barry Feig. "She's in the middle (of treatment), and at the end, we expect a cure."

    Fryer was diagnosed on March 14 and started chemo and radiation April 3. Hers is a rare and slow-growing form of cancer: invasive squamous cell carcinoma.

    "If you have to have this, I guess it's the one to have," Fryer said. "It's so rare and so small, they had a teleconference on my case with doctors 'round the world. They all agreed with what M.D. Anderson is doing. Baylor said they've seen maybe two cases a year; M.D. Anderson said maybe 20 a year. Mine is T-1, the smallest. T-4 would mean you're not in great shape."

    Fryer had no symptoms. She went in for her regular examination, and the doctor found something that didn't look right.

    "I'd just turned 50, and I'd been thinking I'd have a colonoscopy later this year, just because doctors advise it at that age. It certainly wasn't high on my priority list, although I am regular with mammograms and Pap smears and such. I eat right, I exercise right. I just never dreamed ...

    "They don't know what causes it. Not sunshine, obviously," she laughed. "Not a virus, and (there's) no history in the family."

    Channel 13 medical reporter Christi Myers will report on Fryer's treatment on tonight's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

    "It's my choice to do it, and I asked Christi to do it," Fryer said. "I've got a contract with the audience. I always felt they deserve the best and most balanced work that I can give them. They've trusted me and I don't want to let them down. I know I am going to miss some work, and I owe it to them to tell why."

    With this kind of cancer, "If you did surgery, you could recover, but you'd have to wear a colostomy bag," she said. "I'm doing radiation and two types of chemo, a continuous drip, 24 hours a day, from two pumps, through a catheter in the chest, through a vein that goes to the heart," she explained. "It attacks cancer cells and scrambles the DNA so when the radiation hits them, the cancer cells can't repair themselves. It's incredible."

    It's also very hard to take. A new drug to fight nausea has worked. And that's lucky, she said, because the best way to fight off the effects of this treatment is "to eat and drink your way through it."

    "I've gained 10 pounds," Fryer said. "The nutritionist has me on a high-protein, high-calorie diet -- peanut butter, heavy cream, meats of all kinds, and water, water, water. ... I eat roast beef for breakfast, ice cream, milkshakes. This food makes you very happy. I actually think it does something with the brain chemicals.

    "But they do say I'll lose the weight as the side effects get worse. For me, the unknown is still ahead, and the doctors and nurses tell me it's not pleasant."

    She hasn't lost her hair and isn't expected to. All the side effects, though, are getting worse as she ends this third week of her six-week treatment. Her discomfort is increasing, walking is harder, and fatigue is a constant battle. Rest is all-important, so she's been told she may have to stop working soon.

    Fryer has been an anchor mainstay at Channel 13 since 1980. When her medical leave starts will be strictly up to her.

    "If I'm in real pain," she said, "I'll try cutting down to one -- the 10 p.m. (because it's half an hour, and the 6 p.m. is twice as long). If that gets too much, I'll just go home and get well. Melanie (Lawson), Gina (Gaston), Cheryl (Keck) and Minerva (Perez) -- they've all offered to help if I felt too sick to go on, even at the very last minute."

    She said she's also gotten "tremendous" support from her co-anchor, Dave Ward.

    It is important to Fryer that tonight's TV story be frank about what's happening to her. Her goal is to encourage people to get tested and to help others who have colo-rectal cancer.

    "Colo-rectal is the cancer that nobody likes to talk about," Fryer said. "But (Channel 13 cameraman) Bob Dows shot my treatments -- very tastefully, I assure you." She paused for a hearty Fryer laugh. "Bob said, `If I can shoot Marvin's prostate, I can shoot your rump,' " a reference to consumer reporter Marvin Zindler.

    Fryer is the typical TV warhorse, worrying about being out for TV's May ratings sweeps, which start today.

    "The timing could not be worse," she murmured.

    Otherwise, her immediate goal is turning this setback into something good.

    "I really, really feel I can help some people," she said. "I know now that cancer is not a death sentence. And I know it helps to face it and march forward until you can't."

  2. Old School

    Old School Member

    Nov 7, 1999
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    I'm sorry to read that but glad to hear she is doing ok and on the way to recovery.

    " Channel 13 medical reporter Christi Myers will report on Fryer's treatment on tonight's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts."

    The cynical part of me wonders why this info came out just before one of the biggest rating months (May) of the year? I hope it's just a coincidence but I don't put anything past tv stations these days.


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