Saturday, February 26, 2011

what we believe

this post has been quite a while in the making. this quote from president Wilford Woodruff has repeated itself in my mind so many times, i finally decided to heed its counsel! should we not have respect enough to God to make a record of those blessings which he pours out upon us? i could not stand the nagging feeling that i should post this any more. so, here you go! it's long. sorry!

we believe that mason's life was spared by the hand of the Lord. in fact, that is the only explanation for why mason is here today. he experienced a miracle, as truly as the leper was healed in ancient times. 

we believe that the Lord has a plan for mason's life, and specific things he was sent here to accomplish. we believe that there is not anything save [the Lord] knows it (2 nephi 9:20) and because of this knowledge, we trust the Lord's eternal perspective in mason's life.

we believe that mason's life has been constantly blessed. as president Eyring suggests, we have seen the hand of the Lord in mason's life. looking back, we see a small part of the Lord's plan in the months leading up to his diagnosis. this post will serve as a record of sorts. i prefer to call it a testament to the love, plan, and mercy of the Lord. here is a short long list of the many blessings i've found through this journey (from latu's pov)

in 2006, mason's great grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia. she broke the ice as far as the cancer-doesn't-happen-to-my-people mentality goes. we saw the chemo process first hand, and the shrouds were off. cancer was still a killer, but not quite the big fat secret it once was.

in june 2010, penelope decided to pursue her photography career full-time (anyone who didn't know us pre-cancer does not know what an awesome photographer she is!) this blessing spawned more:
  • penelope spent weeks and months of the summer/fall spending time with mason, photographing his every move, and just being a mom. i imagine it was a carefree time for them both. the perfect opposition to masey's cancer battle. 
  • because of all the free time, penelope played many, many games with masey. one of these games turned out to be a whisper game, which helped find his hearing loss. eventually leading to diagnosis.
  • once mason was diagnosed, penelope did not have the added stress of figuring out what to do about work. she could just focus on him, and never had to leave his side.
when penelope was brushed off by a doctor regarding mason's deteriorating condition, she was blessed with the promptings of the spirit to not leave it alone.

mason was blessed to have health insurance coverage, and to be treated at a hospital that did not care whether he did or not. that same hospital is expert at treating children. as far as hospitals go, primary children's medical center rocks my socks!

modern medicine. 50 years ago, medulloblastoma was an absolute death sentence. there was a .2% survival rate (yeah. that's point-two) after a complete surgical removal of the tumor (most kids did not make it through the surgery)

dr. jay riva-cambrin. he was the amazing neurosurgeon that performed both of mason's brain surgeries. he was truly an instrument of the Lord, whether he knows it or not! he performed an impossible surgery perfectly. i'll always remember the morning after mason's first surgery, the residents, nps, nurses and respiratory therapists exclaiming at the beautiful and thorough job he had done. he truly saved mason's life. also, when the possibility of a second surgery entered the picture, he lost sleep debating about whether a second brain surgery would benefit mason. going into the second surgery, we did not fear, but trusted dr. riva-cambrin implicitly. and, he scheduled an emergency second surgery on a friday afternoon so that mason would be recovered in time for his birthday. he was thoughtful, in tune with the spirit, invested in mason's health, and way more than competent. we're definitely fans in our house!

sweet nurses in the picu and ntu. we had thoughtful, competent nurses who really cared about mason and his progress and listened to us. they had his best interest in mind and it was obvious (one of our nurses in the picu even had a matching scar on her head from a brain surgery in her teens!)

mason was able to have a visit from his puppy, chief, the night before his second surgery. it chased away any signs of depression and put him in a great place to go into surgery

gentrie, the sweet girl a few rooms down. she brought mason balloons and a stuffed animal on his birthday, and really turned around his attitude. he was amazed to see another patient who could relate. it was the perfect birthday present!

mason did not need a shunt. this may not seem like a big deal, but let me tell you-IT IS!! besides the fact that you have to adjust and replace the shunt as the child grows (read: surgeries as he grows), a shunt would have been a direct line from his brain to other vital organs. that would have meant free-floating cancerous cells being drained into the abdomen. instead of watching mainly the brain and spine for cancerous cells, we would need to watch the entire body. let me reiterate: mason was blessed to not need a shunt.

mason did not have a stroke, and regained consciousness after both surgeries.

mason did not have swelling or infections in his brain following his surgeries

mason did not lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow, move, think, see or hear following his surgeries

mason did not experience muscle death or inability to use his muscles following surgery

mason recovered from both craniotomies in two weeks total, which meant only 16 days inpatient.

his two surgeries resulted in a gross total resection (they got out every piece of tumor they could find in person or on the mri)

he has been blessed with understanding beyond his years. he asked once in the hospital why he had to have cancer, and was content with our pathetic explanation.

the power of the priesthood. mason received blessings before each of his surgeries, and we saw the benefit of that power.

the physical therapist who let mason ride a bike through the halls of primarys. it was just what mason needed to get out of his funk and want to be out of bed again!

mason was placed in the "average risk" category for treatment, meaning he was able to receive much less radiation than otherwise (radiation causes lots of 'late effects' or problems later in life with reproduction, learning, hearing, social, balance, motor skills, etc. the lower dose lowers the chance of those late effects)

30 (basically) uneventful radiation treatments.

safety while travelling. mason's daily radiation treatments happened during the deepest, ugliest part of winter. there were many mornings where we beat the plows out, but we were blessed and kept safe on our travels.

the sweetest radiation therapists and nurses at lds hospital. they became familiar, loved faces. mason looked forward to radiation, and missed his friends on weekends! he still asks to go, particularly when he is angry with us :)

mason turned 4 a week after diagnosis. this enabled him to have radiation therapy (three year olds do not get it, it is too risky to their developing brains) which increases his rate of survival a lot

as of yet, mason has not had a neutropenic fever. his body's held up like a champ so far 

the blessings i am most grateful for are his ability to take all his treatments in stride. he is still the fiery-tempered, stubborn, insistent boy we know. he still loves the Lord and his words, still wants to hear stories about everyone he loves, and is still a happy boy. cancer is something he's going through right now. it is not mason, and never will be.


  1. beautiful! thanks SO much for sharing this list. it was absolutely beautiful to read about how you've seen the Lord's hand in your life. He is definitely intimately involved in the details of our lives. reading this post was the perfect way to kick off my sunday - i felt the spirit testifying of God's love.

    that is one bright spot about cancer - it sure does give you an opportunity to see many blessings. the fact that you guys can recognize them now in the middle of things is amazing. you are so strong! thanks again for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. God is watching over all of you. He is the reason we are here and loves his children, all of them, so much and unconditionally. His atonement proves that. We're so happy for Mason and for his family. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. God bless you. ♥

  3. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I am so blessed to have met sweet Mason and his family. You all will have a piece of my heart forever.
    Love - Natalie