Sunday, December 15, 2013

He's 6 Months Old!

       Hey everyone, it’s Mason! I know it’s been awhile since the last blog post but this one is very special. In around early November, I had a flare of Graft vs. Host disease. This disease is when the new bone marrow (engraftment) starts to attack one or more of three organs of the body. It can affect the skin, the stomach, or the liver. My Graft vs. Host (GvH for short) had affected my skin causing an itchy, irritating rash. Shortly after my diagnosis of GvH I was put on a medicine called prednisone which is a steroid that’s job was to help calm down my new marrow. It was successful! Finally, this past week I could be taken off prednisone. GvH has a scale of brutality from 1-4. 1 is simply a small faint rash on one part of the body. 2, which is what I had, is an itchy rash from the waist up. 3 is a rash on the whole body, and 4 is a rash with blistering. GvH is also looked at as a positive thing in the Oncology world. Knowing there is an effect of Graft versus Host also tells us that there is an effect of Graft versus Leukemia. This past Monday my mom, my dad, and I left for Baltimore because on Tuesday I had all of my 6-month tests. Tuesday morning I had a pulmonary function test, which tests the strength of my lungs. After that I had blood drawn along with a lumbar puncture and a spinal tap. The lumbar puncture and spinal tap are to check to see if I am still 100% of new bone marrow and also to make sure no leukemia cells remain. We got the fantastic news on Thursday night that I am still Leukemia free after 6 months!
            As not much will be happening within the next few months (prayerfully), I will try and post on the blog as much as I can to keep you all updated on everyday things. I thank you all so much for all of the support and everything you have done for me. I could not have done any of this without all of you reading this. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Once again, in the wise words of St. Augustine, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Getting closer!

Hi everyone!! I know it’s been so long, but I have a quick update on my little brother for you!
Things have been going so well; maybe even better than ever! Just recently he got his Hickman removed. For those of you who don’t know what a Hickman is, it’s a port that is connected directly to his bloodstream. It was used to draw all of the blood they tested, and it was also used to receive chemotherapy and all of Mason’s other medications, such as his anti-fungal. It’s basically an intravenous, or IV, line in his chest. Getting that taken out was a huge deal!
He also got an MRI of his brain yesterday and all is clear there as well. Go Mason! As we approach the 6-month post transplant coming up in December, we can’t help but feel anxious but excited. As things progress on this way, we can’t help but have a strong faith that we are so close to the Emerald City. We know that in reality it’s pretty far away, but we’ve never been as close as we are today, and with each passing day we only get closer.

Thank you everyone for the continual prayers and good wishes. We do the same for all of you every day. We hope all is going this well for you, too!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Most Recent News!

Hey Everyone, it’s Mason.

I hope you all are having a fantastic summer and continue to do so for the few weeks left. Today, I have some updates for all of you. We got results back from my latest bone marrow aspirate and now my bone marrow is 100% donor (Morgan). This is fantastic news because it means I don’t have any more of my bone marrow which was the problem in the first place!
However, I did have a CT Scan about a week ago, which showed that my sinuses were very congested and the Doctors were a little worried about that. Last week they took cultures of the mucus in the sinuses. Great news that nothing grew from it! We just keep getting our prayers answered and it’s amazing.
Also, some more good news! Most of you know that in April I had a fungus infection that started with my eye. I went to the opthamologist today and he was amazed at what he saw. He said usually when fungus shows up in the eye it should leave a scar. Not only is the fungus gone, but also he could not even see any scars or remnants of it. He said that this was remarkable.

Thank you all for praying and we ask if you could keep praying because God is answering. Thank you all so much.

In the wise words of St. Augustine, “It was pride that changed angels into devils, it is humility that makes men as angels.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finally Home! and I have been since July 19th....

Hey everyone its Mason. I finally got home! Hopefully this time for good. I thought I was surprising my family, but I was the one who was surprised. Much of my neighborhood was waiting for me in my front lawn as I drove down the only street in the state that had orange balloons on every mailbox. Though I still have a ways to go, I’d like to thank everyone who has been following us on this long journey, and we will continue keeping you updated. Because I am the most vulnerable 100 days post transplant, I am not clear from my transplant until I go those 100 days infection free, and I will keep seeing doctors for a little bit. Even after all of that I have to be in remission for over two years until I’m considered “cured.” Thank you for all the prayers, and I hope your summer so far has been fantastic.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quick Update :)

Hey Everyone, It’s Mason. As you all know I’ve been staying at a hotel in Baltimore for the past week just to have follow up care three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). We thought we could be sent home this past Friday but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. The Doctors here are more comfortable with me staying for a little while in the area. But it’s not bad! This just makes the day I get to go home even more special.

I don’t have much to talk about so I will ask you to please continue to pray for our friends, the Leyvas, all the children in the world that have been going through the same or similar situation I am in, and to all of their families. Also, for a cure. Yes, chemotherapy “cures” Cancer in many situations but the side effects and what children have to go through with it is very tough. I’m glad that I had all the support from all of you because it made it much easier for me.

In the wise words of St. Augustine, “How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past it would not be time, but eternity”

Thank You All!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Congratulations are in order!

A little over a week ago, I had the chance to participate in The B+ Foundation’s 7th Annual 5K. If you know me, you know that running isn’t my thing, and I usually don’t choose to do it in my free time. As I had quite a distance to run and I’m a slow runner, I had a lot of time to think. This story is relevant I promise.
During a long run like that, you get tired out. If you’re an inexperienced runner, like myself, you might not be able to figure out how to pace yourself. You may get tempted to slow down or even walk. In addition to that, when you’re running a 5K and you don’t know the area, you find yourself unsure of the path ahead of you. There are bumps and hills and twists. There are downhill slopes and curves and forks in the path. You don’t know about any of these obstacles until you come across them, and it is in that exact moment that you have to decide what to do about them. All this time, you trust the people in front of you; you find comfort in knowing that they understand what you are going through. Along the way, you learn to pace yourself along with them and to draw from their strength. Even though you may not know them, you’re positive that they know the right way and that they will lead you to the finish line.
Do you see how it’s relevant now? Mason’s journey has been like a 5K. Though he has had to fight through much more than some steep climbs and curves, he has overcome obstacles just the same. Like inexperienced runners with no knowledge of the area they are running in, Mason did not know much about leukemia when that horn sounded, signaling the beginning of his race. There are times when he got tired and times when he was in pain, but he didn’t give up; there was never a day that my little brother dared to stop. Like runners in a 5K, he had no choice of the path ahead of him, but he trusted those who had done it before. He took courage from those who were going through the same thing, and he drew strength and encouragement from his many fans and cheerleaders on the sidelines, offering him water at all of the checkpoints and more. He trusted the doctors who knew the path backwards and forwards, left and right. He believed that though he might be unsure of all of those curves and bumps and hills, the doctors would steer him in the right direction to that finish line, which is exactly what they have done.
Though Mason had posted saying he would be discharged on Sunday, his neutrophils were not cooperating. His absolute neutrophil count, or ANC, is the number we needed to reach and surpass 200 on Sunday for him to leave. These white blood cells, however, had a different plan for him. They played little games with all of us; their numbers were on a rollercoaster of their own, going up and down, up and down. Over the past couple of days, they had been on an upward climb. Today is Day 21 of the transplant, and it seems only fitting for his neutrophils to wait until today to jump all the way from 190 to 270. Everyone knows that 21 is Mason’s baseball number. It also happens to be the day he got diagnosed, 2/1. Kind of gives you chills doesn’t it?

Today Mason will be discharged from Johns Hopkins and will take up residence in a hotel nearby the hospital. For the next few weeks, he has to live within 15 minutes of Johns Hopkins so that he can get to all of his outpatient appointments, which are frequent during the week, and also in case of emergency. Mason has allowed his doctors, family and friends, and God lead him to the finish line of a race on an unknown course when he had no idea how to pace himself or what obstacles to expect. He didn’t slow down or stop to walk or tie his shoes, and he ran through those cramping muscles. Mason ran his heart out and will continue to do so until he reaches that finish line, his Emerald City.