Meet Mason, our new Footy Colours Day ambassador for 2020!
For a little boy who hates to sit still, seven months of intensive cancer treatment can feel like a lifetime. To make matters worse, Mason returned to his regular classroom after being absent for seven months, but COVID-19 hit, and everything changed again. Due to his weakened immune system it is unlikely Mason will be able to return to school again for quite some time.
Mason’s mum, Larissa, shared with us the story of Mason’s diagnosis and treatment.
Easter last year, when Mason began to complain his chest was sore from being hit by a tennis ball, Larissa thought she would get the real story in ten years’ time that he had jumped off the roof or similar due to his energetic personality. Never could she have predicted that on the 18th of May 2019 her little boy would be diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
Larissa, tells us how quickly a cancer diagnosis can turn a family’s life upside down.
“We were in Emergency at Westmead Children’s Hospital for no longer than 20 minutes and we were told it was very likely it was leukaemia. The very next day he had a lumbar puncture to confirm it and then he started the steroids and then the treatment. That was the start of that journey”.
At just six years old, Mason had a long road of treatment ahead of him which included multiple blocks of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, bone marrow aspirates and lots of blood and platelet transfusions. During treatment Mason also spent time in a wheelchair due to the steroids and chemo weakening his muscles and joints.
While undergoing treatment Mason was absent from school and his school friends. Luckily Fight Cancer Foundation’s education support program was able to keep Mason up to speed and engaged with his education.
“If we had done nothing for those seven months, missing so much time and then having to join back in with his peers would have been really hard. Whereas with Donna [his hospital teacher] and the whole education program team, they were able to keep him at that level where he should’ve been” Larissa explained.
According to Larissa and other parents like her, the education program allowed them to have one less thing to worry about.
“When you find out your child is extremely ill of course you do think about the education that they are going to miss but we as parents didn’t bother trying to push him to do school work because we are pushing him to take all this horrible medicine and do all these things that he doesn’t want to do. The education support program teachers could take over that role and I think that is a massive thing that a parent doesn’t have to worry about. I think it’s invaluable”.
Mason returned back to school at the beginning of this year, before being disrupted by COVID-19. As Mason is still doing maintenance treatment, meaning he has a weakened immune system, it is unlikely he will be able to return to school again for quite some time.
Larissa explained that having the support of Donna and the education program staff, not only with Mason in the hospital but also directly with the school throughout Mason’s entire experience, made a big difference for her and her family.
“Donna and a nurse from the hospital came out and spoke to the school when Mason was relatively newly diagnosed... and was in contact with Mason’s school a lot last year. Having that contact with the school is really invaluable”.
Help kids with cancer, like Mason, keep up with their school while they receive treatment in hospital and ease the transition back to normal school life. Register here to host a Footy Colours Day at your school, organisation, group or club.