A medical journey like no other
Fridley: ‘I felt shocked, sad and angry’
Any major medical diagnosis can be hard to wrap one’s head around, but after one life-altering diagnosis at 21 years old, 36-year-old Whitney Fridley got another in January of this year.
For more than a decade, Fridley has been on a medical journey of multiple sclerosis (MS), confining her mostly to a wheelchair due to a loss of function in her legs.
But on New Year’s Eve, her world was twisted and turned around once more when she felt a lump on her breast.
“My cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29,” Fridley said. “She was actually a Power of Pink lady and she nominated me.”
After feeling the lump Fridley immediately contacted her doctor.
“After a mammogram, biopsy and ultrasound, I got the call on Jan. 26, 2021, that I had invasive ductal carcinoma,” she said. “I felt all sorts of emotions. When you first find out, it is shocking. I felt shocked, sad and angry.”
Fridley said she didn’t know what to do or where to go, but through her doctor, she got guidance.
“My grandmother had breast cancer, but it wasn’t something I thought really ran in the family,” she said. “I was lucky to feel the lump and go in to get it checked as quickly as I did.”
As if breast cancer wasn’t enough, Fridley had to make sure all of her doctors were on the same page in regards to treatment.
“We had to align the breast cancer treatment with my MS treatment,” she said. “Thankfully, there were no challenges. All of my doctors were working together for me.”
Fridley had a double mastectomy in February.
“It was exactly one month to the day that I was first diagnosed,” she said. “I did four rounds of chemotherapy, and somewhere in the middle of that, I got an infection.”
The doctors had to remove one of her implants, and that ended up postponing the rest of her chemo treatments.
“The first treatment was really rough,” Fridley said. “I was in the hospital for five days after that with a high fever and infection.
“The next three rounds were not as bad as the first. The chemo made me nauseous and tired.”
Fridley said her muscles and bones would ache for about a week after each treatment.
“I had 21 days between each chemo treatment,” she said. “By the time you start to feel better, it is time to go back.”
Fridley lost her hair after her first treatment, while she was in the hospital.
“My husband and mom shaved my head because my hair was just falling out,” she said. “Losing my hair wasn’t a major concern for me, because I knew it would grow back. Having the double mastectomy was hard. Seeing myself after the surgery was shocking, but thankfully, my husband and family helped get me through that.”
Fridley and her husband spent their 10th anniversary, on May 25, in the hospital.
“A lot had changed in 10 years,” she said. “But, we made it through it all together, and we made the best of it.”
Unfortunately, with one more medical diagnosis, her breast cancer treatment was temporarily paused.
“My husband and I both got COVID,” Fridley said. “They had to push back the fourth chemo treatment. We were so careful, and thankfully, I had a much milder case than my husband.”
Fridley celebrated her last round of chemo on Aug. 5.
“I am so glad to be done with chemo,” she said. “It is a great feeling to have that behind us.”
On Monday, Fridley had what she said is hopefully her final surgery.
“After that, my treatment is to take one pill a day for the next 10 years,” she said. “It is an estrogen blocker.
“I think we have made it out of this.”
Fridley has very limited use of her legs due to MS, for which her treatment is an infusion drug twice per year.
“That was held off due to chemo, but we will be picking that back up soon,” she said. “If I had any advice for women, it would be to do the self checks.
“And, if you are diagnosed, surround yourself with a good support system.”
Fridley said she tries to have a positive outlook when things get tough.
“Having that positive mindset helps me get through it,” she said. “I am so thankful to everyone who helped, supported, loved and prayed.
“To the Power of Pink, I am thankful to Janice and everyone who makes the Power of Pink possible. It is a wonderful organization that has blessed so many women, and we will definitely be giving back to the Power of Pink in the future.”
Fridley said there is one Bible verse that she continues to go to that reminds her to be strong and courageous even when she is having a hard time, Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”