Barrett’s Story

Site created on March 30, 2021

Welcome to Barrett's Caring Bridge.  
In early March 2021 a small lump was found in Barrett's right cheek.  After multiple Dr. visits it was discovered that he has a malignant tumor and a form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Abby Gregory

Dennis Anderson from the Star Tribune published a story about Barrett and our recent vacation to lake Pokegema earlier this month.  Here is the text if you are unable to read the story online, it should be in the print edition tomorrow.

Stricken by cancer, a 4-year-old Minnesota boy catches a fish — and a break Barrett Gregory caught a fish. Played on a beach. Sat around a campfire. Drove a boat on a northern Minnesota lake. All while his parents, grandparents and friends watched and laughed — and were finally able to relax. AUGUST 24, 2023 — 9:00AM PROVIDED Barrett Gregory, 4, experienced his first “Up North” vacation recently, spending time with his parents at a family friend’s cabin. Dennis Anderson @STRIBDENNIS When Abby Gregory was a girl, she spent a week each August with her family at a resort on the Whitefish Chain, near Crosslake, in northern Minnesota. Swimming and boat rides, campfires and loon calls. All before falling to sleep in a cabin listening through screened windows while, outside, an evening breeze rustled tall pines. Still today, at age 39, Abby carries with her memories of those and many other life-enriching experiences from her childhood days Up North, an iconic Minnesota locale from which, when your vacation has ended, you can check out. But— to paraphrase Don Henley and his Eagles pals — you can never really leave. In recent days, Barrett Gregory, age 4 — the son of Abby and her husband, Adam Gregory — experienced some of his own life-enriching memories up north. He caught a fish. Played on a beach. Drove a boat. Sat around a campfire. All while his parents, grandparents and friends watched and — for what seemed like the first time in forever — took a deep breath. And laughed. And relaxed. Treated for a rare form of cancer for the past two years, Barrett has suffered as no one should. Nearly continuous chemotherapy. Countless scans. Almost six weeks of proton beam radiation at the Mayo Clinic. For many of these treatments and others, Barrett was sedated, only to wake up in pain that rarely subsided. Barrett caught his first fish, dangling a worm and hook from a dock on Pokegama Lake to fool a perch. In 2021, physicians at the University of Minnesota diagnosed Barrett with stage 4 embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, after Adam found a lump in the boy's mouth while brushing Barrett's teeth. Abby had been a longtime employee of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota. So she was familiar with the tortuous journeys that sometimes await families stricken by cancer — the financial strains, sleepless nights, and abandonment by some friends who don't know what to say or how to say it. "Adam and I met in college at the U," Abby said. "We've been married 12 years. But for us, two years ago, life just stopped. I had to quit my job to get Barrett to his appointments. If it hadn't been for family and friends, I don't know what we would have done." A responsibility of Abby's at Make-A-Wish was ensuring that families chosen for once-in-alifetime experiences got the trip or adventure they wanted. "I was always a little surprised," she said, "when a family elected to go to a cabin up north instead of Disney World or someplace like it." Actually, she knew why a cabin was sometimes the preferred choice. But so much time had passed since she had experienced a northern Minnesota lakeside vacation, her memories of those good times had lost their sheen. Now, with Barrett's illness, a vacation of any kind wasn't in the cards. Not so fast, said Scott Peplinski and his wife, Tanya Wayne Peplinski, of Maple Grove. Longtime neighbors of Abby's parents, Mike and Kathy Webster, the Peplinskis have a cabin on Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids. Adam and Abby, the Peplinskis said, were welcome to take Barrett there for a week, and to bring others, too, if they wanted. So it was on a recent Sunday that Barrett made his northern Minnesota debut accompanied by his mom and dad, his uncle Larry Fasching of Minneapolis, and — to familiarize everyone with the cabin — the Peplinskis. Barrett was gung-ho for the adventure. He had finished his treatments in December and a scan this spring confirmed he was cancer-free. "But he missed a lot these past two years," Abby said. "His speech is behind. And all of his treatments, or most of them, occurred during COVID. So he couldn't meet other kids. But we've enrolled him this fall in pre-kindergarten at Folwell Community School in Minneapolis, and we're looking forward to that." Arriving at Pokegama, Barrett tossed his shoes and ran up and down the cabin stairs leading to the lake. Then he was on a dock with a fishing rod, trying his luck with a hook and worm. Had he caught nothing, no one in his family would have thought less of him, because he comes from a long line of non-anglers. Yet soon enough, grinning, Barrett was fighting a mighty perch and bringing it to hand. About then, the Peplinskis, having shown Abby and her family around the cabin, were supposed to leave. "But we're having too much fun," they said, "do you mind if we stay?" "Of course." Soon enough, the Up North feeling Abby first experienced as a girl came rushing back. "Over the years I forgot a little bit what being up north at a cabin means until I got there again and we built a fire and watched the sun set," she said. "Then I remembered. It's a part of me and always will be. I want that for Barrett, too — for him to have something like this to look forward to." He will, thanks to the Peplinskis, who have reserved a week at their cabin for Barrett and his family next summer. Better still, Barrett's most recent scan on Monday gave him a clean bill of health — ensuring that his mother's most recent Up North experience was her best of all. "At the cabin, Barrett looked like any other Minnesota kid," she said. "Happy and relaxed, with no pain


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