Breast Cancer: Marian's Story

Support Services Sustain Marian Fryer as She Contends With Breast CancerHoly Cross Hospital Breast Cancer Survivor Marian Fryer

Breast cancer survivor Marian Fryer is living life to the fullest. The 73-year-old Wheaton resident says, "I'm living for today, and I'm having a good time!"

However, it wasn't too long ago when Marian's life was much more complicated. "I had a mammogram in December 2008 and everything checked out fine," she says. But about a month later during a breast self-exam Marian noticed that her breast felt "thick." She suspected something was wrong, and she was right. "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2009."

That same month, Marian began breast cancer treatment at Holy Cross Hospital, which offers women a full range of advanced breast care through highly trained specialists and state-of-the-art technology.

Survivors Offering Support
As a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient at Holy Cross Hospital, Marian was paired with a breast cancer survivor volunteer through the hospital's Survivors Offering Support (SOS) program.

Marian's support person was Janet Kelly of Silver Spring. SOS volunteer mentors are matched with new patients by their similarities in age, lifestyle and stage of breast cancer. Janet offered Marian emotional support, understanding, encouragement and insight like only another breast cancer survivor can.

"Janet came to my house with a lot of information, and she'd call to see how I was feeling and if I needed to talk," Marian says. "I found I could talk to her about some things I couldn't talk to my friends and family about."

Breast Cancer Support Group
Marian still participates in the hospital's Breast Cancer Support Group. This group is for patients and survivors looking for support, information and hope. "We talk about where we are in our breast cancer journey and we help newcomers," Marian says.

Advanced Treatment Options
"Expert surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital offer several different surgical approaches for breast cancer patients," explains Eric Oristian, MD, medical director, Breast Services, Holy Cross Hospital. "Breast-sparing lumpectomies remove the cancer and some of the normal tissue surrounding it, but not the breast. A mastectomy removes the entire breast."

In May 2009, Marian had a mastectomy. "The staff at Holy Cross Hospital took excellent care of me," Marian says. "The nurses were very attentive, the heated robes were terrific, and my doctor even walked with me to the operating room."

After her surgery, Marian was in the hospital for three days. During the following 18 months, Marian received an aggressive form of chemotherapy. "It's a long process," she says. But support volunteers like Janet Kelly make a difference. In fact, recent studies show that people being treated for cancer who participate in support groups often report having a better quality of life than those who don't participate.

Today, Marian's quality of life couldn't be better. She's back to doing what she loves including community activism in her town of Wheaton and running her home-based consignment shop—Marian's Connections.

Learn more about the Holy Cross Hospital Breast Center

To schedule an appointment or for more information about the Breast Center, call 855-HCH-HOPE (424-4673).