Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mason McLeod

I first learned of Mason McLeod more than a year ago, just as Tyler was getting on the winning side of cancer. I believe I somehow crossed paths with his grandmother on a cancer website.

Mason approached his fight with a spirit that refused to lose. Mason's little brother donated bone marrow. His mother, grandmother, and the entire family joined in the fight. His father searched out treatments around the world. With that determination, I knew deep in my heart that Mason would survive.

Fighting Burkitt's is hard. The lack of funding prohibits any form of individualized focus or research. And the HIPAA privacy laws create barriers from parents getting the information. When given Tyler's prognosis, I asked doctors the difference between those that lived and those that did not. But no one knew. What were the characteristics of those that survived, how did they respond differently? There had to be something to guide our decisions. But there was not. Bottom line: 20% of those on this treatment will be alive 5 years from today. Period. How lucky do you feel?

There is no database of shared information. No place for parents to go to compare their children to profiles of other children. No information beyond the raw statistics. A 20% survival rate mean nothing until you know if you child is more similar to the 20% or the 80%. But that information is almost impossible to discover.

As cancer hit, Mason hit back harder. After every setback, Mason responded with a vengeance. For 16 months the cancer has resurfaced. Mason has never flinched, always returning to the fight with courage. As Mason fought, his father searched the world, contacting Burkitt's survivors, posting on discussion boards, looking everywhere for answers. How can you possibly lose, when you give absolutely every single thing you have to give?

But this is not a Hallmark movie. This is the real world of cancer. There are no truths, no absolutes, no answers. It is a world where giving everything you have is sometime just not enough.

Yesterday, after 16 months of courage and strength that defies description, 10 year old Mason Campell McLeod passed away.

He walked away from his pain, and into the arms of God. And in the end, cancer still did not win. The only thing it ever claims is a tired, worn body. And even that is a hollow victory, for it can never claim our soul.

1 comment:

melissac said...

My thoughts and prayers are with the McLeod family. We are so sorry to hear of this young loss. Mason and all the young fighters have inspired so many of us to make our lives even more meaningful.

Sadly, I must let you know that our community lost a young hero this week too. Sam Owen Z'L died on Wednesday morning surrounded by his closest family. He just celebrated his 13th birthday last week and his bar mitzvah in the hospital this past Sunday. The Seattle community is mourning the loss of Sam. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wonderful family as well.