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How one Richland deputy is helping others battle cancer

Richland County Sheriff's Department Lt. Frieda Wyatt was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and underwent 18 chemotherapy treatments over a six-month period before being declared cancer free. The CrossFit fan has organized CrossFit for Cancer, an event that will raise money for cancer patients.
Richland County Sheriff's Department Lt. Frieda Wyatt was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and underwent 18 chemotherapy treatments over a six-month period before being declared cancer free. The CrossFit fan has organized CrossFit for Cancer, an event that will raise money for cancer patients. tglantz@thestate.com

Lt. Frieda Wyatt said it was a miracle her cancer went into remission.

The nearly 20-year Richland County Sheriff’s Department veteran, who serves on its fugitive task force, had been told she had stage IV B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that it was not curable.

After successfully beating cancer, however, the exercise enthusiast and mother of four, along with the sheriff’s department and Carolina CrossFit, will play host to the “CrossFit for Cancer” fundraiser on Saturday for those who are still battling cancer.

All of the money raised during the event will be donated to the SCOA Cares foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to those undergoing cancer treatment, Wyatt said.

“Throughout this whole experience, as hard as it was, I was made aware of all the different things people have to deal with,” Wyatt said. “Cancer affects everybody.”

It even affects every being.

Wyatt’s 7-year-old white Boxer, King, also was diagnosed with lymphoma after she was. In November, she had to say goodbye to her faithful pup.

Wyatt struggled to hold back tears when remembering how King followed her around her home, and how he always laid next to her as she battled cancer.

“He was the size of a house, but he thought he was the size of a cell phone,” said Wyatt, while recalling how he used to sit on her lap.

In addition to King, Wyatt had her family and friends to help her throughout her treatments. She also never stopped participating in her CrossFit workouts when she was initially diagnosed in the fall of 2015.

It was her strenuous workout routine that led to a doctor initially dismissing her abdominal pain as spasms, Wyatt said.

After the pain forced her to call out from work two days in a row, Wyatt headed for the emergency room, where doctors discovered her spleen was “about to explode,” she said. Doctors ultimately would remove her spleen, three lymph nodes and her gall bladder.

Then she started chemotherapy. Eighteen treatments spread out over six months, sometimes eight hours a day. Her cancer went into remission in April 2016.

Because of her support system, Wyatt said she never attended a treatment or hospital visit on her own. But she said she remembers how many did – and how costly and time consuming it could be.

To keep her routine as normal as she could while undergoing treatment, Wyatt said she still ran a 5K and continued CrossFit, though at times she could not do some of the exercises with the high intensity the fitness program is known for, she said.

But it was the CrossFit community’s well-known supportive atmosphere that inspired her to hold the fundraising event.

Wyatt said she hopes Saturday’s event is the first of many ways that will help those battling cancer.

“I just want to do what I can do to help everybody and let people know you can beat it,” she said.

If you go

CrossFit for Cancer fundraiser

When: 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday

Where: Carolina CrossFit, 1825 Laurel St., Columbia

Register: Lt. Frieda Wyatt, (803) 513-3445

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