The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 9th

Student Holly Fryar fights cancer, hopes to return to UNC in fall

<p>Holly Fryar, a student who withdrew last year while undergoing treatment for her cancer, and Dr. Dan Miller, who performed her stomach surgery. Fryar hopes she will return to UNC in the fall. Courtesy of Holly Fryar.</p>
Buy Photos

Holly Fryar, a student who withdrew last year while undergoing treatment for her cancer, and Dr. Dan Miller, who performed her stomach surgery. Fryar hopes she will return to UNC in the fall. Courtesy of Holly Fryar.

Flash forward three years, and Fryar found herself at UNC for a more positive reason.

“It was my dream school,” Fryar said. “I always said I wanted to be there, and it was also convenient because my doctors were there.”

At the beginning of her sophomore year, Fryar began taking a new drug that left her fatigued and unable to do the things she normally did. Within months, she withdrew.

“I think my roommate Sarah kind of saw it coming, but my family and I decided it was best that for this semester I pull out,” Fryar said.

She said she hopes to return to UNC in the fall.

Even though Fryar can’t be there physically, she said support from school peers never fell short.

Amanda Coats, one of Fryar’s friends from her hometown of Rocky Mount, stood in honor of Fryar at this year’s Dance Marathon .

“Many people wouldn’t know what (Fryar) had going on because of her courage and positivity day in and day out,” Coats said.

Sarah Kelly, her roommate, said they are amazed at Fryar’s ability to touch lives without being on campus.

“She’s made an enormous impact on my life, and I know she’s made a huge impact on every other fellow Tar Heel she’s met here,” she said. “Her strength is truly unheard of, and I couldn’t imagine life here at Carolina without her.”

After withdrawing, Fryar and her family moved to Georgia to continue her treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and encountered major complications from her medicine .

“One day when I was home, my parents came in and found me unresponsive,” Fryar said. “I was awake and looking at them, but I wasn’t responding. I couldn’t tell them who they were or where I was.”

Fryar’s ammonia levels had spiked, causing her to lose motor skills like speech and coordinated movement. She was put in a medically induced coma for several weeks before she left the hospital in Georgia to go home on hospice.

Fryar recalled her father saying he counted at least 163 people who visited over one day and show their love.

Heavy visitation became so recurrent that Fryar’s family put a sign out front saying, “Holly is resting, family only at this time.”

Despite the major hurdles of learning to speak and move properly again, Fryar triumphed, and in early January 2014 she went back to Georgia to continue treatment.

However, this time there was someone waiting for her who thought he could change the entire trajectory of her disease. She met Dr. Dan Miller , who she instantly connected with over their love of college basketball.

Their humorous rapport helped Fryar stay optimistic as Miller prepared to remove two massive tumors in her chest that no other doctor previously wanted to operate on.

Now, Fryar hopes to return to UNC in the fall after the removal of a final tumor in her stomach. She hopes to continue her studies as a psychology major and ultimately become a therapist.

“I’ve realized with my positive attitude I can rub that off on someone else,” she said. “I really just want to help people, and that’s the basis of my everything right now. I want to show others that they’re not alone.”

university@dailytarheel.com



Comments

The Daily Tar Heel's 2022 Year in Review

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive