The Untold Side of Cancer: Jenny Fry Documents Her Husband, Greg’s, Cancer Journey

Pain Turns to Peace

When Greg was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2019, Jenny, Greg’s wife of 20 years, was devastated. Greg was a healthy 57-year-old guy.  “How could this be?” Jenny asked. “I was so angry at God. I was not in a good place. I had to learn to surrender. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but such a gift.” Jenny confesses that through her husband’s cancer journey, she became a better person. 

Learning to surrender was a pivotal shift that led to Jenny looking at her life much differently.

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story
Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Saving Greg’s Life  

“As a former nurse, I understood how lucky we were for Dr. Kevin Halsey,” a tearful Jenny says. “Dr. Halsey is the reason Greg is here today. He saved Greg’s life.”

Greg and Jenny worked as a team, even in business. They started flipping houses in 2019. While renovating one of the houses over Labor Day weekend, Greg started complaining of low energy and uncontrollable itching. Greg had an appointment with his primary care physician on Thursday and was immediately called after test results to see Dr. Halsey at Boone Hospital Group for a biopsy. Within days the results came back negative. However, Dr. Halsey said despite the negative results, “Greg has cancer and doesn’t have time.” The words rang clear with a bit of panic attached. Dr. Halsey explained Greg had a blockage in his bile duct causing a “septic,” reaction and the backup was actually poisoning his body, so they didn’t have time to waste. 

Dr. Halsey immediately put in a stint in Greg’s bile duct and made an appointment with Dr. Tungesvik at Missouri Cancer Associates. Greg was in cancer treatment within weeks, and his cancer journey had begun. 

Poised From Past Experience 

For Jenny, this was not her first run-in with cancer. “In May of 2018, I lost my best friend to colon cancer; after a three-year battle with cancer, she died in my arms,” she recounts as she smiles warmly thinking of the friendship they shared.

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story
Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

“Now, I’m sitting in the chair next to my husband, doing this again,” Jenny says. “I was scared. I remember thinking, ‘What am I going to do without him? How am I going to raise these kids by myself?’” As she grappled with these answerless questions, she knew she had to do what was best for Greg. Poised from past experience, she knew how to be a support system, an anchor and an ally through the challenges. 

Life Happens While We Are Busy Making Plans 

Jenny and Greg dreamed of building a home in the country. They wanted a home that was the epicenter of friend and family get-togethers, peaceful morning walks and cooking dinners with the family. In 2016 they saved enough capital to finally start building and bring their dream to life.

As luck would have it, the happy couple moved into their dream house after Greg received his cancer diagnosis. “We just had to keep going,” Jenny says. “We had to either give in, give up or give it our all”. It was a hard decision, but they decided to move into the flipper home to create less financial stress on the family.

The house Greg had been working on while having symptoms, was a “flipper house.” The couple had to make a very difficult decision. They decided with the financial burden that comes with a diagnosis and the loss of income, they would move into the flipper house. 

The flipper house in the past three years served as a resting place for Greg post-treatment and a place where all the Frys gather to celebrate their love of food and just spend time together. 

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

The Frys’ dream home:

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Sometimes it takes a big life event to remind you what’s really important. In an instant, the construction chaos, running a busy household and small inconveniences faded away and revealed a new perspective.

“Everything became about making memories,” Jenny says. “Feeding the cattle, taking care of the farm, having the kids over for dinner and even our long drives to Columbia for chemotherapy were all about how we can create moments that we will treasure forever.”

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story
Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Genetic Testing: Putting Together the Puzzle 

Being a former nurse, Jenny understood the test results from each visit. All the pieces of the puzzle fit together when Greg had genetic testing done. The tests revealed that Greg had the ATM mutation, which means he has abnormally high chances for pancreatic, breast and lung cancer.

When dealing with genetic mutations, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; 2022 was a hard year for the Frys. Greg’s sister passed away and exactly a month later, his mother. It was just a week later they found out that Greg’s cancer was back.

“Our kids have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene,” Jenny says. “What we do with that information is difficult. But, what we do know is that we are aware. We have an awesome health care team and support to get through anything at this point.” 

Since his diagnosis in 2019, Greg has gone through surgery, chemotherapy and more than 20 rounds of medication to help his body fight pancreatic cancer. The journey has taken the family on a three-year battle. 

“Regardless of what is placed in their path, they accept it with dignity and grace, which is beyond admirable,” says Jennifer Harrison, RN at Missouri Cancer Associates and Dr. Tungesvik’s nurse. “Even on days when Greg obviously does not feel the best, he still manages to throw in a bit of humor to make me smile.”

Greg is a great patient,” Dr. Tungesvik adds. “He has made the most of a difficult situation.”

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

One of the Hardest Moments

Going through chemotherapy during COVID-19 posed challenges for the Frys. Not only were they concerned with Greg being high risk, but also, more heartbreaking, was the isolation. 

“Greg and I were together 24-7,” Jenny says. “I would drop him off and be in the parking lot for seven hours. Not being there for him was one of the hardest things I’ve done.” She recalls missing Greg ringing the bell on his final treatment and sharing in the joy of the moment. 

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Last day of the chemotherapy certificate signed by all the MCA infusion room nurses and staff. 

Jenny feels it’s her duty to help advocate for these cancers and help spread awareness for genetic testing. “I wear pink in October and wear purple in November to create awareness around early screenings and using technology like genetic testing,” she says.

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story
Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

The Cancer Roller Coaster: Once You Get On, Hold On!

From the high and low points, a cancer journey comes with tears of joy, tears of pain, many unanswered questions and lots of waiting to know if treatments are working. From having an “all clear” in November of 2020 to metastatic pancreatic cancer that spread to Greg’s liver in August of 2022, it’s been a bumpy ride for the Frys.

One of the biggest disappointments was a failed Whipple surgery. The surgery removes the head of the pancreas, the distal bile duct, the gallbladder, regional lymph nodes and the duodenum — the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach and would have given Greg a 25% chance of survival. Only 15% to 20% of patients are eligible for Whipple surgery.

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

On February 10, 2023 Greg, Jenny and their family received the news that Greg’s tumor wasn’t growing, but it wasn’t shrinking either. With tumor markers indicating Greg’s body is responding to the 5FU. Cue the tears of joy. The feeling of relief washed over the Fry family in an instant.  

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

The news really meant that Greg was one step closer to his goal — seeing his son and daughter-in-law get married in May of 2023 and their youngest graduate from high school. 

“We told Dr. Tungesvik early on that we would do whatever it takes to extend Greg’s life to see these moments,” Jenny says. “We can’t stop life from going on around us, and we either choose to participate or miss out. We didn’t want to miss out!”

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story
Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Zayne will graduate from Camdenton High School in May 2024. Greg and his family have high hopes that Greg will be able to be there to celebrate. 

Cancer Has Changed Our Life and Our Perspective 

“We have raised four wonderful kids, ran a business, built a house, remodeled a house, moved a few times and a handful of health issues to name a few,” Jenny says. “But God has been the center of our relationship, and we have worked hard. I am proud of us and the life we have built together.” 

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

Greg continues to trend in the right direction with diligent care from his wife and the care team at Missouri Cancer Associates. Jenny, Greg and the gang continue to live life in pursuit of the small moments, the big times worth celebrating and all the messy in-betweens. 

Their story serves as a reminder to live life as you have less time than you think, be kind to people, and prioritize your health.

Jenny and Greg Fry Patient Story

If you’d like to follow Jenny and Greg’s cancer journey, you can follow her on social media, Jenny’s Facebook. 

Hearing someone else’s story can provide a sense of empathy and understanding, which can help them feel less alone and more connected to others. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at Angela.Huhman@usoncology.com.