It is that time of the year when a champion in both men’s and women’s college basketball is crowned. For any head coach of a division 1 college basketball team, reaching and winning the Final Four is the pinnacle of his or her career; and in some cases, life.
For head coach, Brenda Frese of the Maryland Terrapins, this is all just the icing on the cake.
Frese, the mother of 7-year-old twin boys, Tyler and Markus Thomas, knows the joys of motherhood. She also knows the euphoria of reaching and winning the NCAA Final Four, when in 2006 her Lady Terrapins were crowned National Champions.
Yet, the national title pales in comparison to her greatest victory and that of her family.
In 2010, Frese’s husband, Mark Thompson called her with some devastating news from their pediatrician — Tyler was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Tyler spent the next three years with a port in his chest through which doctors would administer chemotherapy medications.
The fight against this wretched disease was intense yet successful. In December of 2013, Frese and her family received some very good news; Tyler’s chemo treatments were finished. About a month later, a surgery to remove the port in his chest was scheduled.
“It’s like making it to the light, after more than three years in the tunnel.” – Brenda Frese (Washington Post)
As great as those two milestones were, Tyler was still not out of the woods. He would have to go through another year and a half of clean blood tests to be considered cured. This coming May marks the 18-month plateau.
While each milestone along the way en route to a clean bill of health was an appreciated God-send, the family knew not to put the celebratory cart before the horse. This is something never lost on Frese.
“There’s a new anxiousness that comes with the end of the chemo. When he doesn’t have drugs in him, does it increase the chances the leukemia comes back? But all the indications are very positive. He’s been on a great course.” (Washington Post)
Once that final clean bill of health is signed off on by doctors, the celebration is going to be huge. Frese indicated that they were holding off on the biggest of the celebration — a trip to Disney World — for the outcome they had been waiting five years for.
So for Brenda Frese, March usually means Madness, April always offers the possibility of a crowning moment, but nothing will ever be sweeter than May 2015.
By the time you’re reading this, the national semifinal fate of the Maryland Women’s basketball team will have been decided. However, no matter how it shakes out for the Terps, ask Brenda Frese what the near future has in store for her, and I can predict that you’ll get a cliché: “We’re going to Disney World!”