About Our Mason
A photo of our Mason

This is the letter we read at Mason’s Service. We think it says so much about who he was.

Dear Mason,

Although we’ve told you a million times, and will tell you a million more times, we want you to know that we are honored and fortunate to have you as a son. We will never understand why you were taken from us so soon, but we know we will see you again in a better place, and you will be healthy, strong, and safe when we get there.

We remember so many things about you: the day you were born and peed on the doctor, dancing to the Wiggles, and twirling to the Grateful Dead, getting muddy and wet in the backyard with Mateo, always wanting to do what Mateo did, and dress exactly like him, bossing Mateo around, rocking out with Francisca, Mateo and the Peace Corps Volunteers, being a secret spy, dressing up as a superhero every day, your Eskimo kisses, supersnuggles, the smell of your head, carrying the baby doll on your back like a Bolivian lady, calling out the window in Honduras for Monica and Francisca to get you when you did not want to go to bed, brushing your teeth with the music toothbrush and dancing naked, playing with your buddies, taking off your shirt and twirling it around when you scored a goal, or when DC United scored a goal, riding the ATV all over the cancer ward, being the most active cancer patient they had ever seen, playing soccer in the hospital halls, doing your Color Wonder, looking up and saying “moon” out the window, always intervening when Mommy and Daddy wanted to kiss each other and only giving us 5 minutes for dates — waiting up until we got home.

You are so much more than the last 15 months of your life. You are strong, intelligent, honest, sweet, loving and kind. You are also strong-willed and stubborn, but that’s ok!! That’s what we love about you.

We are sure that you are in heaven directing the soccer game, making sure that everyone is playing the right way.

We know you didn’t want to leave our family, but we understand why you did, and we know you are no longer in pain. You fought as hard as anyone could fight, almost always without complaint. Everyone fell in love with you, they couldn’t help themselves. Your voice and smile were strong until the very end — cancer could not rob you of that.

We will hear that voice and see that smile every day for the rest of our lives. We promise that we will take care of Mateo and Francisca, and hug them and love them as much as you do. Mateo is right, Death is not “nothing at all”, it hurts not to have you here, but we will celebrate your life and spirit every day through laughter and good times. Mateo wants you to know that you are the best brother in the world, and he will miss you.

A wise person once said: “Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone. As long as we love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on- in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Mason, you are an immortal champion, and will be loved and admired forever. We will see you in the stars every night shining bright, letting us know you’re there, watching over us. And every time we see a shooting star, we know you will have scored another goal.

Sweet kisses, sweet boy. We love you.

Mommy and Daddy


In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing And so it will be as if the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! • The Little Prince

A piece published for
the Childhood Brain Tumor
Foundation Newsletter.

Our Mason:

Our Mason was a fighter, a superhero, an artist, a soccer player, a baseball player and a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with disseminated large cell anaplastic medulloblastoma in July 2006. His only original symptoms were four days of vomiting. Our lives changed that July day dramatically and we worked together to provide him with a life as normal as possible.

Cancer did not define Mason. Mason defined his cancer. Being only 3, almost four at diagnosis, we were not sure how to handle all this. Would he go to school? Could he play sports? How in the heck do you discipline him when he was suffering so much? But my dad gave us good advice and said Mason was not cancer. Cancer was only something he had — not who he was now. That philosophy guided us through our cancer journey.

Mason, despite his age, wanted to know what was happening with his body. Even when we were talking with the doctors and he seemed not to be paying attention, he would come back and ask questions later. Respect that children are listening and deserve to know what is happening to them in age appropriate terms. These kids are smart and grow up so fast. Any control and power we give to them through knowledge and choice helps them. Even at age 4, he demanded to be heard. He was a quiet patient, maybe not the friendliest, but he knew that the hospital was trying to save his life. When he felt awful he would ask to call the doctors to see what they could do to help. They were not the enemy.

Mason, throughout his life, was a force of nature. He was sweet and loved to give hugs and kisses but he was also stubborn as an ox and very vocal about what he wanted. That served him well when he began his battle. We truly believe it was that stubbornness and his determination that helped him regain back his speech and mobility after his surgery. It was that determination that got him out of bed to play with his brother when Mateo came home from school everyday. It was that strength that kept him going in his last weeks when he must have felt atrocious but still fought to stay with us with all his might.

There were some days that we didn’t have patience and we were tired. We all were. We still had to put him in time out for biting his brother or throwing the remote control at him. We had to make him go to school some days. He only wanted to go when there was PE and art — his favorite specials. He learned he could try to get out of things when he said “he was sick.” All four year olds do that.

We encouraged him to play soccer and baseball and go to school. He got knocked down and his skinny legs looked so frail in his soccer shorts. But he was having a great time just being a kid and some of our best memories of him are of him scoring a goal and celebrating. All our little boy wanted to do was to play with his brother, wear his soccer jerseys and be with his family.

He continued to live his life despite what was happening to his body. He taught us that despite all the horrible things, the hospitalizations, the medicines, the shots, etc, that life was meant to be lived. Keep going. Many nurses and hospital staff will remember this little boy kicking a soccer ball all over the hospital and throwing himself on the floor as a goalie, or on the green ATV at the hospital with his parents running behind him with his IV pole down the hall.

We have had to remind ourselves of his fortitude and his example as we mourn his loss. He died on October 13, 2007. We know that he used all his will to overcome his disease, but he did not get the miracle. Everyday we struggle with his loss, but we just imagine this little boy yelling at us to keep going, to love his brother and each other. He demands that of us. That is what keeps us going.

What can we say to others about this experience and our son? Keep fighting. Every child is their OWN statistic. Ask for help. Let them be kids. Cancer is not who they are. Love them as much as you can every day. Treat them the same way as before the disease. Do the best you can. Remember they love you. No matter what happens-they will always be a part of your life.

© 2016 Mason Leach Super Star Fund