Channing Frye discusses his heart diagnosis and the road ahead

Channing Frye’s heart diagnosis that the Phoenix Suns announced Thursday came as a big surprise to the power forward. In a video of the Suns’ press conference held on Friday morning, Frye came across as positive and humbled despite learning of his enlarged heart.

“It’s extremely humbling having people want to pray for you and just wish you the best. For me, it’s just been how impactful we are as NBA players,” Frye said at the press conference.

“The support group that I’ve had from the Suns, from my family, old coaches, old players … like ‘Channing, you’ll be fine no matter what.’ I think has really motivated me even more excited to come back. Every player doesn’t want to think about the end, but at the same time, if you can kind of get a glimpse of that and have people say, ‘Channing, you’ll be fine regardless,’ it makes me feel OK but it makes me feel also, I’m not done yet.”

While the Suns and team cardiologist Dr. Tim Byrne said there will and should be no timetable for Frye’s return — Lon Babby reiterated the stance that the team will reevaluate the situation in December — they all remained optimistic on a number of issues, including Frye’s potential return to the court. Only time will tell whether that’s this year or not.

“This is my reality, and I have to just deal with it and just stay positive,” Frye said.

From the video on Suns.com, I’ve pulled out the most informative quotes to answer all the major questions about Frye’s condition, how it was found and what the future holds.

Is Frye definitely out this season?

Babby, Frye and Dr. Byrne aren’t going to say yes or no. Frye’s health is the main concern here, so there’s no jumping to conclusions. If and when his heart shows signs of complete normalcy, he’ll be able to return.

“I want to be optimistic,” Frye said. “After four months, five months … the road to recovery is basically rehab my shoulder, walk, do like yoga, pilates and play a lot of golf. For me it’s just chillin’ out and really not getting my heart rate up too high.

“It’d be irresponsible for me to push something like this … until I get full clearance,” Frye added.

Dr. Byrne said the enlarged heart could go away rapidly or could take a while. It depends on the individual case, another reason for a timetable not being set toward a return.

What has to go right for Frye to be cleared?

The answer to this is simple. Frye won’t play until he’s 100 percent. To be cleared by the team means he’ll be able to jump completely into the fray, so he must be able to play at the highest level before he’ll be allowed to return. With such a serious health issue, it’s all or nothing.

How was the heart issue caught?

Babby and Dr. Byrne credited the NBA’s league policy for catching Frye’s heart problem. They both described it as “very strict.” The enlarged heart was caught by a required preseason echocardiogram.

Frye joked that he was fearing the test because he was forced to run on a treadmill beforehand, which isn’t easy for a man as tall as Channing. When Byrne told him of the issue, Frye said he thought it was a mistake considering he had no signs of ailment leading into the routine exam.

What exactly is the cause of Frye’s dilated cardiomyopathy?

Said Dr. Byrne: “We still don’t really know. (Frye’s) most likely cause is a virus and many times those do improve and get better. So yes, there is a very real chance he can return to normal function and a normal lifestyle.

“The chance is better than not.”

Dr. Byrne added there was little chance that genetics were involved in Frye’s case.

When did the issue arise?

The test was administered about two weeks ago, Frye and Babby said. Frye kept it under wraps and sought out opinions from numerous doctors. His visit to Minnesota this week found what most everyone else had, giving Frye confidence he had a good handle on the diagnosis.

Byrne said the problem was caught very early, making him optimistic about the prognosis.

What will Frye’s involvement be with the team?

During the offseason, Frye said he was working out twice a day and had been extremely motivated by the pressure placed upon him as one of the Suns’ few returning veterans. Now that he’s out, he still mentioned a deep involvement in the team.

Frye will take this weekend to let the situation soak in before letting the team know how involved he’ll be.

“Me, I like being involved, I like being part of the guys, but at the same time I understand I have to let them have their own chemistry,” Frye said. “I look at it as a rare opportunity to be with my family … see how everything goes on behind the scenes (in the organization).”

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