Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mason is home

Just a quick note - Mason came home last night and is doing fine. Soccer practice was rained out tonight, but there is a game on Saturday. He is insisting on playing, and we want him to at least have that chance for a few minutes.

Some good news - the local school that Mateo attends has agreed to accept Mason into their Pre-K class, whenever he can make it. He has been asking to go to school, and is very excited about this development. The school was nice to do this, as the class is full.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Round three almost over

Mason finished the methotrexate yesterday, so that completes the third round. Now we just wait for him to clear it from his body so he can go home. Francisca is on duty at the hospital today and tonight so Mom and Dad can catch up and spend some time together. We are incredibly grateful to have her with us. It is a tremendous help.

Mateo is doing better and is enjoying his soccer league. We try and balance our time between the boys when Mason is in the hospital. Our block where we live is only one block from the school and has many boys in the neighborhood. Everyone has been wonderful here and we feel very supported by our new neighbors. In case you do not have it our new address is:1711 North Barton Street Arlington VA 22201. Our new home number is 703-888-0777

Thank you to everyone who has called and sent notes, posters, and gifts for the boys and us. It is greatly appreciated! Eventually we'll get to thank you personally, so please be patient with us. :-)

Here is a photo from Mason's hospital room and the wonderful photos and pictures that have decorated and brightened his room.

It really helps! So keep them coming.
The MRI is planned for October 11. In the meantime, we will bring him to the school when he feels well and his immune system can handle it, so he can participate when he can. Francisca or mom will volunteer in the classroom so he has one of us with him at all times for now. He is excited about it. We are grateful to the Key school and its staff for making these accomodations for him. they did not have to and it really helps him normalize his life and give him something to look foward to when he is out.We'll keep you informed as things progress.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Chemo Continues

We are now beginning the third day of round three of chemo. As expected, the first day of Cisplatin was pretty rough for him. Day two and three with Cytoxan has not been quite so bad. This time, Mason was not happy about going back for chemo and cried the whole way to the hospital. A pretty tough ride and no way to make it better for anyone. He is pretty perceptive and was trying to negotiate what the doctors could and could not do to him in the hospital. Unfortunately, not much is in our power to change anything for him. So we keep pushing through and hope this is the last we will ever have to see of these drugs. Our MRI is scheduled for October 11 and we wait not so patiently to see if this is all working. He will then finish the last three rounds of chemo with the stem cell rescue as part of each round. 3 almost down- three to go. We shall see....

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quick medical update

Mason's counts are good so we will start the third round of chemo on Thursday, Sept 21. His hearing test today was good. So far no hearing loss from the Cisplatin. Mom gets to stop the shots, for which she is very grateful. :-) So we will keep you posted through the next process. It will be an important one as we will be doing the MRI after this round to see if the chemo is working. So keep praying and sending good thoughts our way!

The BIG Birthday!!

It was wonderful this weekend. Mason had been on the verge of a fever Friday, so we were a bit worried he would need to go back into the hospital over the weekend. But positive thoughts prevailed and he was fine for his 4th birthday. His Nana and Uncle Joe and Aunt Karen came down from NY for the big day, as well as some friends in the DC area that we know from Bolivia, Honduras and Ecuador.
He got a rockstar guitar, a Batman, and a soccer goal from his family. He rocked out all morning before the party and played some soccer with his birthday guests. The cake was a Batman cake with some added figures from Mason and his brother, Mateo. Mateo made the birthday sign for Mason. In true Latin fashion Mason bit the cake and put his face in it. he loved that part the most I think! We went to the playground at the school and played some football and soccer after the cake.

He got many phone calls and cards wishing him a great birthday. He had a wonderful day and we so appreciate all the friends and family who sent thier good wishes for him.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How you can help:

A lot of people have asked- or said they want to help in any way they can. In order to make it easier and for people to have some way to feel they are helping, here are some ideas:

If you live close by:
Come and visit in the hospital, come and baby sit for a little while so Kirk and I can eat a dinner together, take Mateo out for a play date, when your kids are healthy have us over to play, mow our lawn, make some food to freeze.

If you live far away:
Keep calling! Or sending e-mails- they really help us when our spirits are low, Call Mateo when Mason is in for chemo (he gets a little down and worried when he is in the hospital), keep sending notes and cards
(Mason loved telling the docs all his friends who sent him notes and posters)

Things everyone can do:
There is a great website that has many ideas to help friends and family come up with ideas:

o Pray and send positive energy our way
o Donate blood at your local blood bank- Mason has had to have three transfusions so far and every blood bank needs supply
o Talk to your local cancer center and find out if they need gently used toys for their playrooms.
o Raise fund specifically for DC Childrens Hematology/ Oncology Group to help enhance its program. They serve many underserved communities and many cultures
o Help translate documents into Spanish or French-there are so little resources for the multicultural community that the hospital serves.-Let Danielle know via e-mail if you are willing to do this
o Collect used Nintendo and Gamebox games that you no longer use and send them to us. The hospital has stations that can be moved into the rooms and always need more games as many get lost - for more information you can go to the Starlight Foundation website- Mason has had his first experience with Nintendo at the hospital and has loved it!
o Donate to the Childrens Cancer Foundation- they are a local DC, Northern VA and MD organization that does tremendous work in the hospital

We appreciate any and all help. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from everyone. It has gotten us through this so far.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.—Helen Keller

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mason is enjoying his time home

The last round of chemo went fairly well. The cisplatin and the cytoxan were the hardest for him. But when he was feeling well, he played in the playroom and was up around playing soccer. He is enjoying his time home now. His white blood cell count is low but so far no fevers to send us back to the hospital. One thing he does not like about being home is that Mommy has to give him a shot of Neupogen(a drug to help boost his white blood cell counts) every night. It leads to many tears and negotiating. The next round of chemo should start the 18th, after his birthday on Satrday. He is really planning his birthday- should be some superheroes of all types. He is having a hard time deciding which one should be the theme of the birthday, so we plan on using all of them.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mason is home

Mason got out of the hospital on Wednesday, 9/6, and is now home, feeling pretty well. We will try to post some pictures this weekend. His 4th birthday will be 9/16, and then he goes in for the next round of chemo on Monday, 9/18.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Chemo continues

Mason gets his last dose of chemo today. He will then be in the hospital until Wednesday or so, while it works its way through, and out of, his system. Here are a couple post-op pictures, along with another one from just before we came back to the U.S.

Left: Here are Mason and Mateo right before Mason was diagnosed.

Below: Mason, 3.5 weeks post-op, with his cousin.

Below: Mason after first chemo round

Friday, September 01, 2006


Mason at World Cup Day, Academia Cotopaxi, Quito, Ecuador - June 2006
Our son, Mason, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on July 7th, 2006 in Ecuador, where we were living. We appreciate very much the concern and support of family and friends for Mason's well-being, and have established this blog as a resource for keeping everyone updated on his progress. We will try to update it as often as possible.
Mason was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumor, which was successfully removed on July 10th by Dr. Neil Feldstein at New York - Presbyterian Hospital, after we were medevaced from Ecuador. Everyone at the hospital was wonderful to us - highly recommended. Mason spent a week at the hospital before being released. He endured temporary full mutism and imbalance for three weeks, before starting to speak again. This is a common effect from this operation, and was very frustrating for him and the rest of the family. Gradually, he has returned to normal with regard to speech, and almost normal with regard to balance and walking. His walking continues to improve and he even broke into a little jog the other day.
After the operation, we received the news that the cancer in the tumor had spread to Mason's spine and cerebellum. My employer, Peace Corps, very kindly offered me a position in Washington, DC, so after a short recuperation in New York, we travelled to DC to determine whether appropriate treatment was available for Mason. After ascetaining that it was, we relocated here in late July.
Mason is currently undergoing chemotherapy at Children's National Medical Center with a world-reknowned team led by Dr. Roger Packer, a leading expert on medulloblastoma management. The regimen is six cyles of nine days as an in-patient, followed by nine days out (but he has to go back in if he gets any kind of fever). He is currently in the hospital receiving his second cycle of treatment. After the third cycle, an MRI will be done to see if he is cancer-free. Whether he is or not, the treatment continues until the end of six cycles. He has had stem cells harvested, to be transplanted near the end of the six cycles to help him recuperate.
So far, Mason has tolerated the treatment relatively well. We are very proud of what a brave little boy he is. He very much appreciates all the wonderful cards and posters that folks have made for him, along with the games and toys.
We are also proud of the way that his big brother, Mateo, has handled Mason's illness and our sudden move from Ecuador. He did not even have time to say goodbye to any friends, and we had to leave our dog and two cats behind for now, although we expect to get them sent up in a few months. Our nanny, Francisca, will also be joining us in Washington, for which we are very thankful.
We are relocating to Arlington, VA, and will send out new contact info ASAP. We found a tiny, expensive three-bedroom house in this crazy real estate market, but at least it is very close to the hospital, Kirk's work, and Mateo's school (just one block). We move in on 9/15, just one day before Mason's 4th birthday.
That's it for now - more to follow.