Fredia Martin is a beautiful thirty-something-year-old woman in the prime years of her life. She lives her life to the fullest, with a great job at a supportive company and has two boys, ages nine and fourteen. Like most people, she’s taking life day by day. Her life has challenged her and made her a stronger young woman. Her sons keep her on her toes and she’s learning every day how boys grow up a little differently than girls. She works every day to teach her boys the life lessons she’s learned. She leans on God to keep her motivated and moving forward and revels in the glow of her family.
And she’s fighting breast cancer.
A week after her thirty-first birthday, she learned of her diagnosis. “Happy Birthday to me,” she jokes, well knowing that cancer is no laughing matter. But, one thing she truly knew was that it was going to take the strength of God’s hands to overcome this newest challenge in her life. Her first choice was to tackle the challenge on her own without burdening her family. She had one-day surgery performed by Dr. Gary Lahti at Danville Regional Medical Center. “Oh my goodness,” she says, “I was in and out the same day. The hospital has been great. From the point of being diagnosed, everybody has been great.”
The success of the early steps, including surgery and support, gave Fredia the strength to know things were going to work out for the best. Three weeks later, when the weight of carrying the burden alone became heavy, she showed her boys the scar and told them what was going on. “When I was discouraged, my family came and rescued me. My family is a spiritual family and they reminded me that I needed to keep the faith. And I did.” Her parents have passed and her sister and brother have genuinely helped her keep her faith. “It was God watching over me, and I realize that.”
Through her fight, because of the support of her employer, Abingdon Place and her co-workers, she was able to continue to take care of her family. “My job is like a big family. They have really supported me. My general director had a family member go through cancer, so she was very supportive. She understood what my family and I were going through. Everything that I needed she said, ‘No problem,’ so I really thank her for that.”
She has worked together with the team at Danville Regional in every stage of her fight. “Danville Regional has been amazing to me. I was really scared before I went in for surgery, but Dr. Gary Lahti eased my fears which relaxed me a whole lot and helped me calm down. I’m so happy I’ve had great doctors through this whole thing.”
After the surgery, Fredia tackled her condition with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. “Dr. Timothy Brotherton (at Danville Hematology and Oncology) was extremely nice. When I had questions about chemotherapy, he answered everything. I never felt rushed or hurried.
He wanted to make sure I knew exactly what was going on. And Dr. Peter Leider’s staff (at the Center for Radiation Oncology) is great. I can’t pick just one. Everyone has been great.” Now that’s she’s completed her treatments, she sees Dr. Veshana Ramiah at Danville Hematology and Oncology. “She is wonderful.”
She attributes some of her strength to asking questions and paying attention to the answers. “I know cancer can be a gloom and doom word but understanding what my options for treatment were helped me make good decisions. It is definitely not like it was back in the day. Treatment has come a long way. At first I was in shock, but once I came out of shock I was like, What’s next? I didn’t think, Oh I’m going to die.” Freida’s proactive approach to her surgery helped her keep a positive outlook because she felt like she was in charge of the fight against her cancer. “I knew exactly what was going to happen before I went in and how I would feel afterwards. They explained how I would feel during the chemo. You know, everybody is different. Their body goes through different things.” Because of localized treatments, “I didn’t get as sick as some people. That was a blessing in and of itself, because I still needed to work.”
Overcoming such a traumatic phase in one’s life isn’t easy. “There were moments where I thought what is going to happen with my kids if something happened to me. Those thoughts crossed through my mind, but they didn’t linger. I leaned on my faith and I tried to chase any negative thoughts from my mind.”
Today, in the later recovery phase of her battle, that positivity emanates from her like a sunrise on a cloudless day. Her smile is contagious and her spirit is heartwarming. “The more positive I was the better I felt,” she says. These are words to truly live by.