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2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

No one would blame the veteran WTAE anchor if she took time off while undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment. Instead, she chose to use humor and grace to educate and inspire others, all while in the public eye.

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photos by cory morton


It started with an itch.

On Jan. 21, 2017, a Saturday night, right before she was turning in for bed, Kelly Frey reached up to scratch under her bra strap and felt a lump on her right breast, one that was not there a few weeks prior, and one that certainly was not there when she had a mammogram in August.

“I went, ‘I have a lump,’ and I started to feel. It was that easy,” she says. “I had never done breast self-exams before. I had never done anything like that before. Now I understand the importance of them.”

For a few minutes after feeling the lump, Frey hesitated. Should she tell her husband, Jason Luhn, about it, or would she be needlessly worrying him?

After her hair began to fall out following chemo treatment, Frey documented shaving her head on Facebook Live, champagne in hand. Her husband, Jason Luhn, also shaved his head.

Ultimately, she knew she would never be able to keep that kind of secret from her husband until she was able to contact her doctor. Frey sat Luhn down on the edge of their bed and told him what she found.

For some reason, her gut told her that at 43 years old — and with no record of the disease in her family — she had breast cancer. “I don’t remember the whole conversation, but I remember saying to him, ‘I’ll call the OB-GYN first thing Monday morning, but I bet you by next week I’ll be having a biopsy,’” she says.

Less than two months later, her fears confirmed, the longtime WTAE-TV news anchor would take her private struggle public with an on-air announcement about her diagnosis, one that would spark hundreds of thousands of comments on social media calling the anchor an inspiration to others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It is for her brave and public stance that she is Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2017 Pittsburgher of the Year.


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