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Sussex girl skips birthday presents

April 8, 2014

Alayna Fry of Sussex wants money to donate to pancreatic cancer for her 10th birthday.

You see, when Kay Fry lost her husband Jay to pancreatic cancer in October 2009, 5-year-old Alayna lost her father.

"Sometimes when I think about this — and I think about this a lot — I just open my eyes. Like, whoa. This is real life. This really happened to me," Alayna said.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN), pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of only 6 percent, making it one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Kay said that, in Jay's case, it was only eight months from the time he was diagnosed until his death.

"Every day, he's thought of, and now that (Alyana's) 10, there have been a lot of questions," Kay said.

Alayna's actual birthday was March 26. Her party was March 28, a sleepover at Country Springs Hotel and Waterpark in Pewaukee. At some time after that, she and Kay planned to present a check to the Milwaukee Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

"My teacher actually donated money, too, when she heard what I was doing," Alayna said. She goes to Woodside Elementary School in Sussex.

Five degrees of separation

The PCAN estimates that more than 46,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.

No one understands the statistics better than employees at Rockwell Automation in downtown Milwaukee.

Jay Fry worked for Rockwell Automation. "From chemo to surgeries, I never once heard him complain," said his wife.

Cindy Peterson, wife of Rockwell employee Tom Peterson, also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The wife and mother died three months before Jay. Recently, another Rockwell employee, Mike Irwin, was diagnosed with the disease.

Rockwell employees, family and friends have been walking in Purple Stride Milwaukee for the last few years on the team they formed, "They ROK." Kay and Alayna will be there this year.

Kays said anybody can join the team through Readers can donate to the "They ROK" team online or just show up at the event in Miller Park on June 7, wear purple and support those participating.

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