How Lash Extensions Energized a News Anchor Fighting Breast Cancer

News anchor Kelly Frey, who suffers from chemo-related hair loss, got lash extensions — and a confidence boost. (Photo:  Kelly Frey WTAE/Facebook)

A new lip color, haircut, or manicure can often turn a bad day around, but can a set of lash extensions literally help you face cancer? For Pittsburgh news anchor Kelly Frey, who has shared her breast cancer battle publicly, the answer is yes.

Frey, who is the morning news anchor on WTAE, shared a long, heartfelt Facebook post updating her family, friends, and fans on her cancer status.

“Last Thursday, I received somewhat devastating news during my surgical oncologist’s appointment,” Frey wrote. “There’s no easy way to say it… the tumor in my right breast isn’t shrinking.”

She went on to detail how shocked she was to find out that after some of the most powerful chemotherapy available and “drinking water and taking my supplements and eating healthier,” the tumor remained.

However, Frey shared some “positive” news, including some very relatable thoughts about losing hair to chemo.

Frey wrote that after losing her hair — including some of her eyelashes — to chemo, she was worried about gluing on false lashes. Without real lashes to hold on to, the glue would only adhere to the skin, creating, in Frey’s mind, concern about the fake lashes falling off while she was working. So Frey decided to pamper herself by getting lash extensions, which appear to have given her a confidence boost.

“I’m loving not having hair,” she wrote. “Seriously. That goes for — let’s be blunt ladies — not having to shave, too! But I was starting to lose my eyelashes and I’m still scared at the prospect of having to glue on fake lashes for work. I might seal my eye shut or have those things falling off on air! So, I treated myself instead to having extensions put on. It’s the little things that boost your spirits. And for now in the wake of some unexpected news last week, if lush lashes in the midst of chemo do the trick? So be it!”

But can that really help? A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that in people with chronic illnesses, having lower self-esteem had a huge impact on their well-being. Lowered self-esteem was also tied to a greater severity in disease-specific symptoms and stress. So it’s possible that doing something as simple as getting lash extensions can provide a self-esteem boost.

The anchor announced her breast cancer battle on March 10, both on her news broadcast and in a Facebook post (complete with giant pink boxing gloves). Frey wrote about finding a lump while taking off an itchy sports bra and how she was afraid of telling her husband, as she didn’t want to scare him.

According to her station website, Frey’s husband, Jason, is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and serves as a tanker pilot with the 171st Air Refueling Wing, which is stationed at Pittsburgh International Airport. They have two children.

We reached out to Frey for comment and will update our story when we hear back.

Frey is not alone in her fight. According to the nonprofit BreastCancer.org, about one in eight American women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. The good news is that breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. Still, for women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer except lung cancer.

Fight on, Frey, and keep rocking those lashes!

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