Fundraiser seeks to fulfill bucket list trip
Apple Valley’s Marie Fregien wrote on CaringBridge on June 4 that the past week had been a “dichotomy of good and bad, highs and lows, smiles and tears.”
For the last year, her husband, Jason Fregien, has been battling a glioblastoma. The Mayo Clinic says this is an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the spinal cord or brain.
Tuesday, June 1, was an especially busy day for the family. One of their sons played doubles in tennis sectionals for Eastview High School and qualified for state and another Eastview team took first. Jason received his 13th Avastin infusion and had a doctor appointment, but had a rough Tuesday evening with fatigue, a headache and back and neck pain. Later in the week he experienced more pain, suffered from headaches and had trouble sleeping.
However, that Tuesday also brought positive news. A friend, Katie Nordquist, started a GoFundMe fundraiser at https://bit.ly/3ioYXcV to send the family on a trip to the Western & Southern Open for tennis in Cincinnati, Ohio, in August.
As of June 9, the GoFundMe page has raised over $12,000.
“It was overwhelming to see the donations steadily roll in. Last spring when Jason was first diagnosed I asked him if he had anything on his Bucket List,” Marie wrote in the June 4 CaringBridge post. “The only thing he mentioned was going to an Open. It means the world to me that he will get this opportunity.”
Jason and Marie have three children. Jason worked at Boston Scientific prior to his cancer diagnosis, Nordquist said on the GoFundMe page. His CaringBridge page says he has served as a Eastview Athletic Association director for the organization’s youth summer tennis programs.
The whole family enjoys tennis. The couple’s sons, Seth and Levi, have played varsity tennis for Eastview High School, while daughter, Anna, teaches tennis to young children. Marie is a tennis coordinator at Lifetime Fitness.
“The family has logged thousands of hours on the court,” Nordquist said.
Nordquist has been friends with Marie since 2011 and her husband and Jason frequently connected at events for their children.
Nordquist said the cancer has “stolen his ability to be Jason and will continue to take him away.” He has experienced a complicated misdiagnosis and underwent surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, emergency room visits and many scans.
“Today, Jason struggles with pain, the loss of vision, energy and memory, and difficulty making basic decisions. No more walks of more than one block. No more helping the kids with complicated math homework. He can complete a word find. He forgets to eat if Marie isn’t there, and food brings its own anxieties and problems,” she said.
Jason is no longer able to work, according to Nordquist, and Marie has cut back on her hours to focus on her family.
Nordquist said on GoFundMe she and others are working with a Grand Slam Tour company to send the Fregien family to the Western & Southern Open. A local Apple Valley business, that wanted to remain anonymous, agreed to match the first $5,000 raised. Anything raised beyond the cost of the trip will be used towards a fund to support youth tennis in the community or possibly start a tournament or scholarship in Jason’s name.
“Jason is passionate about making tennis accessible to all kids and has volunteered countless hours to make that a reality. Please help us thank him – and his family – for their contributions to our community by donating to our cause,” Nordquist said.
Marie said in her June 4 CaringBridge post that they are currently trying to get her husband’s pain under control with tweaking his medications and were awaiting the results after a scheduled magnetic resonance imaging scan.
“Thank you for all your support in whatever form it takes! We appreciate you,” she said.
Patty Dexter can be reached at email@example.com.