Laughter is wonderful. It has so many incredible benefits. – Amy Fritz
Meet Amy Fritz
Amy Fritz is a joyous and faithful wife, sister, daughter, aunt, niece, co-worker, friend and 20-year breast cancer survivor. She knows firsthand how much cancer can affect the lives of those diagnosed, and everyone around them. For Amy, cancer looked like the end. However, it was instead the beginning of who she became. Since her battle, she earned a bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Washington, then earned two master’s degrees from Penn State University and North Carolina State University. After college, she began her career with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the National Cooperative Observer Program Manager.
Together, Amy and her husband Ryan Fritz started the Science of Cardio. They are helping to improve the lives of those around them, by promoting healthy lifestyles through exercise and nutrition. As the CFO and Marketing Director of Science of Cardio, Amy enjoys inspiring and motivating others, by leading by example through her and her husband’s many adventures. They enjoy cycling, skiing, hiking, kayaking, running, swimming, traveling and exploring new places, and most importantly, bringing hope to others. Amy and Ryan have an infectious Joy about them. They are on a mission to spread joy wherever they go.
Amy is incredibly grateful for her friends and family, who helped her win the battle against breast cancer, for her devoted and loving husband. She is also grateful for her friends who encouraged her to write her story to inspire others and bring hope to those battling cancer. She gives God the glory for being able to share her testimony with you and others.
What is the journey you went on to be the expert you are now?
I am a 20-year breast cancer survivor. I didn’t just get diagnosed once, but I had two separate diagnoses. I was hit hard with cancer when I was in my early 20s. And that’s a really difficult time for people in their lives. You’re becoming an adult; you’re finding your footing, you’re trying to either finish up education as I was or getting started with a career. And so to suddenly have your life come to a complete halt and have to fight cancer. That’s a real challenge. Not everyone has the opportunity and privilege to be able to survive that. Some people do live past cancer, but it hits them hard, and it changes their life. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to build a life I love and not to be stuck in survivor mentality and feel sorry for myself, asking why did this happen? I wanted to make sure that I went from a survivor to a thriver, loving life and living it to its fullest.
My story in the book is about my journey with cancer, some of the details that I went through while I was fighting cancer, and the surgeries that followed, and then what I did with my life afterward. I was an undergraduate at the University of Washington, finishing up my Bachelor of Science in atmospheric sciences. I’m a little bit of a book nerd, and I love math. If anyone wants to know math and science, I love them both. Once I was free and clear of cancer, I went on to graduate school at Penn State University, where I earned a Master of Science in meteorology. Then I went on to NC State University, where I received a Master of Science in physical oceanography.
When I was fighting cancer, one of the things that my doctor encouraged me was to set big goals, things that would excite me, things that would motivate me. And for me, getting the opportunity to go to graduate school was worth it. When I was fighting cancer, it was putting that goal out in front of me. While I was fighting, I was filling out applications for graduate school. I took the graduate required exam even during chemo. I was doing everything I could to keep my life moving forward because it’s important not to get stuck in your battle. Once I was done with doctor’s appointments and the follow-ups, x-rays, and surgeries, I had something else in my future. So that’s a little bit about my story.
Now you’re probably wondering, where does laughter come into this? Why is laughter so important? Where laughter comes in is it’s been shown that as we laugh, we release positive endorphins throughout our body, which could help our immune system. It’s a great way to bring your mind back to being centered and focused. Laughter is wonderful. It has so many incredible benefits I can’t even begin to explain, but it’s also good exercise, which is another piece of my life.
You were faced at one point with a grim diagnosis, and you were physically drained and just weak. And you decided to go somewhere. Tell us more.
As I was taking rounds of chemotherapy, there came a time when my body wasn’t bouncing back, my white blood cell count wasn’t recovering. I was borderline on being hospitalized for weeks. At one point in time, my doctors looked at me, held my hand, shook their heads, and said, you need to get your affairs in order. It’s very difficult to listen to a doctor, not really know how much time you have left. I wanted to see if I could make one last memory in my life. If I could have one last really exciting thing to do, what would that be?
I asked my doctors if I could go to Disneyland. I lived in Washington state at the time. I know this is a real huge ask because we were worried about my immune system. If I pick up anything, it could be the end of me. I didn’t know how much time I had left. I really wanted to go to Disneyland. You can’t step through the gates and not be smiling and feeling joy and just overwhelmed with happiness everywhere. That’s where I chose to go.
You were very weak when you got there. You said every day you got stronger and stronger and stronger. The positive laughter energy was transformational for you. Can you explain a little bit more?
Physically you could see the difference. On my first day in the park, the employees offered me a wheelchair. They escorted me through the park and allowed me to go to the front of the lines. It was great that they were so helpful. I think I went on maybe three rides, and I was done for the day. But it was great.
The next day I woke up, and I had about a quarter of an inch of hair on top of my head. I went from completely shiny and bald to a quarter of an inch of hair. And when that happens, you almost don’t recognize yourself. On top of that, I went from looking very pale, almost greenish, with dark sunken eyes to very normal coloring. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I suddenly no longer looked like a cancer patient, but I looked like a normal person. When we went back to the park, I pushed my wheelchair around, but it was more or less just in case, but I really enjoyed the park.
By my last day, I had hair, I gained weight, I was tan, and my freckles had come out. On top of that, I could really feel my energy had come back, and my appetite had returned. It was a huge transformation. I wish I had pictures of the before and the after. Within a span of about five days, I completely physically transformed. And it did something really powerful to the inside of me too. I went from feeling hopeless and doomed to all of a sudden I could see that I had more life to live, that I had opportunities that I could create for my future, and that it was I was going to make it. I think felt in my heart I could see that I was going to beat cancer. And that was the biggest part for me on that trip to Disneyland was to get that hope back.
Are you willing to share the strategies you use with your clients to help them accomplish their wildest dreams?
Since my journey with cancer, my husband, Ryan Fritz, and I started a business called Science of Cardio. Together, he and I help other people reach their goals. His focus is the fitness and the nutrition side, but I help with things like motivation and inspiration. We have quite the following of people who really look to us as role models for living a life that you love. Some of the secrets are:
#1 – Laughter. We talked previously about laughter.
#2 – Fill your life with love. Love the people around you, love the things you do, and love yourself. I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s really important for us to take off the critical lens and look at ourselves for who we are. Who I am is not my body. I am my character, I am my personality, I’m my spiritual person, but I’m not my body. Love who you are, love who you are to others, love who you are in this world. I love the things that you do to contribute to other people’s lives. Make sure you have others you love and who love you in return. That is an important piece of having a fulfilling and wonderful life.
#3 – Make plans. I think part of loving your life is having something to look forward to down the road. It really helps to know that you have something you’re looking forward to, whether it’s a walk in the park, or getting together with friends virtually over the computer, and when all this is over, getting together with people. Maybe make a date night with you and a loved one. Figure out what really excites you. You’ll know you found it when you can’t stop talking about it when you’re filled with joy about it. When thinking about it, it just lifts your spirits.
How did you end up meeting your husband Ryan?
So back to making plans. I had a cousin who’s not the most athletically inclined, but she knew that I ran. I like to run a lot of charity runs. And she came to me and said, Amy, I’d like to run a marathon. But I can’t do it alone; I need your help. While I was in the middle of training here in Maryland, I was on a trail and sitting on a bench where I was going to take a break; my bench was occupied by this handsome man. When I ran by, he had a big smile. I had to finish my run and then track back to the bench. And when I ran by, he was noteworthy. He caught my eye. When I walked back, he was still there. I asked if I could sit down and rest on the bench because I just came from a long hot run. He happily scooted over and made room for me, and we started talking. The next thing I know, I invited him home for dinner. And it was a life-changing moment. I knew when I saw him on the bench that I was at a crossroads in my life. Either I was going to make a new relationship, or I was going to move on and lose that opportunity. I’m so glad I took that opportunity and sat down because he and I fell in love during my training for the marathon. We officially started dating after the marathon, and about two years later, we got married in Hawaii.
When I was dating him, he was a personal trainer at a gym. I told him we need to start our own business. Between the two of us, he had all the experience with physical training and education on fitness. We joined forces, and together we started Science of Cardio. He works with the clients in the DC area and remotely all over on their physical fitness and training goals. He focuses on low impact saving your joints. He’s always thinking about the long run, how can we make sure that whatever you’re doing is sustainable. He and I have made a great team. Science of Cardio has been in business for nine years now.
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