He Fought Fires All Over The City, But His Biggest Battle Was Close To Home
He fought fires all over the city, but his biggest battle was fighting cancer close to home.
It was July 2014 and Loveland-Symmes Fire Department District Chief Jon Frye had been feeling sick for two weeks. Severe headaches finally prompted a visit to his family doctor – Jon’s first day off in two years.
Though he had just passed his department physical with flying colors, Jon’s doctor drew blood for additional testing. That Sunday, she had a sudden, compelling urge to go into her office. At the very top of her inbox was an email with Jon’s test results: his white blood cell count was 1.6.
Jon had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): cancer.
Specialized cancer treatment in Cincinnati by expert OHC physicians.
Dr. Miguel Islas-Ohlmayer, a hematologist-oncologist and specialist in blood cancers at OHC, immediately sent Jon to the Blood Cancer Center at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health. There, expert OHC cancer doctors lead Cincinnati in blood and bone marrow transplants. Now Jon had more choices for cancer care, just a few blocks from his home in Kenwood.
“Within one hour, I was walking into my room and being attended to by doctors, nurses, and staff from OHC,” Jon said. “They are the reason I am able to share my story today. “
In that first hour, Jon also learned he would be in the hospital being treated for cancer for at least 30 days. “What just happened?” Teresa remembers thinking. “How will we manage?”
In a perfect reflection of the selfless service of firefighters, a plan to help Jon and Teresa was already in place. Over the next months, every need would be tended to, from yard work to hot meals to carpools.
OHC was the answer for cancer care in Cincinnati.
“The first decision we made was not to ask why; not to look on the Internet and search for answers. We were already comfortable with Dr. Islas and the staff at OHC,” Jon said. “My promise to Teresa was that I was going to be ready for our wedding,” planned for March 2015.
At Dr. Islas’s suggestion, two of Jon’s siblings were tested for bone marrow compatibility; his brother was a perfect match. A record 14 days after the transplant, Jon was home and his white blood cell count was rising.
“You have to trust and believe that your doctors and oncologists are putting the right path in front of you and you have to follow it,” Jon said of OHC cancer doctors. “I never looked back. You have to commit 100 percent.”
In March 2015, Jon married Teresa at the Disney Wedding Pavilion in Orlando in front of 48 family and friends. As they left the ceremony, there were new friends waiting. Firefighters from Reedy Creek, Orange County, Orlando, Winter Park and others lined up, in uniform, to salute his strength and courage.
Editor’s Note: Jon Frye’s full story, with additional photos and details of his cancer journey and wedding, can be found in “OHC CONNECT MAGAZINE – FALL ISSUE 2015,” our quarterly magazine which you can download here.