Boy & Girl of the Year
Delaware's Boy & Girl of the Year
The Boy & Girl of the Year are local blood cancer survivors who motivate and inspire the Man & Woman of the Year candidates throughout the competition. The Man of the Year candidates run on behalf of the Girl of the Year, and the Woman of the Year candidates run on behalf of the Boy of the Year. These young heroes are being treated at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, and they look forward to sharing their personal stories this season!
Boy of the Year
One day after his 6th birthday in June, 2015 Mason was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma. We had taken a family trip to Mexico; during the last leg of our trip Mason began to complain of stomach pain. We thought maybe he drank the water or ate something that just didn't cooperate with his belly. The stomach pain would come and go and when we returned home I took him to his pediatrician who originally thought he had a gastrointestinal bug. Throughout the next week the pain in his belly began to worsen to the point where he could no longer keep anything down, including water. I was concerned that even if it was a GI bug that he was definitely dehydrated and we took him to our local emergency room. There they were not exactly sure what was going on and even morphine would not subdue the pain. They performed an ultra sound and found a spot on his liver, although at that point they still did not seem overly concerned.
At that point we were given two options either to take him to Children?s Hospital of Philadelphia or Nemours Alfred I. duPont. We chose Nemours (we had been there before and were very happy), so Mason and I had our first ambulance ride early that morning. Soon we learned there was a blockage in Mason?s stomach that was causing all the pain. They would not be sure of exactly what it was until after surgery. After Masons surgery, his surgeon confirmed that there was a mass that was, in fact, cancerous and that he believed that is was Burkitt's. That day our lives changed forever.
Cancer "runs" in our family, my mom was diagnosed with Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2009 and lost her battle on her 55th birthday in 2011 (Mason was 20 months old). Cancer was a very scary word for all of us considering our history with the disease. Prior to Mason?s diagnosis, Brian and I never knew that childhood cancer and adult cancers are very different. A few days after Mason's 6th birthday we sat him down and broke the news to him. His first reaction was that he was not yet ready to die or go to heaven to be with Mimi just yet. Mason has not lost that fighting spirit since.
Burkitt's lymphoma is one of the fastest growing cancers, so treatment needed to start immediately. Mason received multiple rounds of chemotherapy along with multiple spinal tabs so the doctors could inject chemo in to his spine, since the cancer had begun to reach his bone marrow. Mason never really had a break from being sick, his chemo regiment was one week in the hospital receiving chemo, two weeks off. Mason was prone to getting mucositis, a nasty side effect from the chemo drugs. During Mason's off weeks we would come home and a few days later he would spike a fever; we would return to Nemours and generally stay for another week.
In August, Brian and I welcomed our second child Ashling Marie into the world, it just so happened that Mason was in the hospital with a round of mucositis while I was in our local hospital. We would Face Time one another, comparing rooms and hospital food. Ashling has been a wonderful inspiration for Mason, who loves being a big brother, and hated staying in the hospital without her.
In December, Mason completed his last round of chemo and a few days before Christmas we received the news that he was officially cancer free! On New Year's Eve his port was removed and he was able to return to school after the holiday break. This was huge for Mason, not many things get him down but not being able to go to school and be with his buddies really made him sad.
This is Mason's story and his journey with cancer. It has not been an easy road, one that came with lots and lots of tears, sleepless nights and fears. As Mason's parents we could not be prouder, he is an amazing little boy and now our daily inspiration!
Girl of the Year
Maggie was diagnosed with B-Cell Leukemia when she was just 2 ½ years of age. She was an extremely active and fun-loving toddler before she was diagnosed. When she started sleeping more than being awake and active during the day and was not eating (Maggie loves to eat), we knew something was wrong. We went to her pediatrician and demanded tests. Two days later, we were sitting in the emergency room at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children getting the worst news of our lives. Maggie didn?t leave the hospital for two weeks. She immediately began chemo treatment two days later and didn?t stop receiving chemo until August 2015.
Maggie is the epitome of strong. She never complained and was always excited to see her doctors and nurses at the clinic. She has been an inspiration to her family and friends for when times get tough. She is now in Pre-K and enjoys spending time with her family friends, and meeting new people. She likes telling people she is a cancer survivor and how she kicked cancer?s butt!