Two battles with cancer, but hasn't missed Pan-Mass ride in 12 years
Portsmouth resident Elizabeth Fregeau poses in front of a flag-adorned Green Monster on Pan-Mass Challenge Night at Fenway Park last month. At the event, Fregeau was among the cancer survivors and PMC cyclists who rode their bicycles around the warning track during a pre-game ceremony that celebrated the Red Sox' 11th year as sponsors of the cycling fundraiser for cancer research. (DANNY GEORGE)
By April 2001, she was in remission. That August, she completed her first two-day, 163-mile ride from Wellesley, Mass., to Province-town, at the tip of Cape Cod.
"She said, 'I'm behind you, but you have to know you have nothing left in the tank.'" Fregeau said, recalling the conversation with the doctor. "She was concerned, but she also knew I had to do what I had to do."
The most significant moment that year came near the end of the ride, when Fregeau, still bald and wondering if she was going to make it, saw her two daughters, Emily, now 18, and Caroline, now 14, at the finish line. They had often seen their mother start the ride but had never seen her finish.
This August, at 49, she will ride for the 13th consecutive year, with the support of her daughters, many friends and family, and her boyfriend of seven years.
Her first year participating in the Challenge, she had planned to ride in memory of a friend's mother who had lost her battle with breast cancer.
On Aug. 3 and 4, Fregeau will be among 5,500 cyclists, including 143 others from New Hampshire, who will ride with the collective goal of raising $38 million to support patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber.
She said riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge is a way to give back to everyone fighting all kinds of cancers.
She also gives back in other ways.
In July, Fregeau joined other survivors in a ride around the warning track of Fenway Park, where she met other women in earlier stages of treatment. They were able to talk about their experiences, and Fregeau was able to give them some hope.
Her mom suggested that it may be so she could be an inspiration to others. And she is, even in the way she simply lives her life each day.
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