Shaun and Elissa, shocked by the news, were confused. How could their sweet, playful, and generally content baby boy have cancer? There were no signs, symptoms or family history. The couple felt devastated and helpless.
Sometimes childhood kidney tumors do not cause signs and symptoms and the parents find a mass in the abdomen by chance or the mass is found during a well-child health check-up. In children and adolescents, most kidney cancers are Wilms tumor, where one or more tumors may be found in one or both kidneys.
On Thursday, January 18, 2018, Mason underwent surgery at VCU Medical Center to remove the tumor, as well as his whole left kidney, called a nephrectomy. Wilms tumors and other childhood kidney tumors are usually treated with nephrectomy. Even after receiving the good news that the cancerous tumor was gone, Shaun and Elissa knew that Mason would have challenges ahead. In February, Mason will begin chemotherapy to shrink any remaining tumor that may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
Shaun and Elissa have watched their son, Mason, be poked and prodded only to know that this painful routine will continue week after week for the next six months. Mason will receive chemotherapy treatment regularly, a regimen that commonly causes patients to become ill. This will be difficult to endure emotionally and physically, but also costly.
Even with insurance, medical bills can be a financial burden. Between hospital stays and treatments, Shaun and Elissa are facing a financial situation many of us are never prepared for. Some of the services that Mason needs may be out-of-network and require larger out-of-pocket expenses. Mason will also need around-the-clock at-home care. From doctor’s bills and insurance co-pays to travel costs and lost wages, Shaun and Elissa need our help to relieve this burden, and allow more financial flexibility so that they can concentrate on Mason’s health.
Like his parents, Mason is a fighter. He has so much strength in his little, not yet two-year-old body – cancer definitely picked the wrong kid! And, he is loved beyond belief by his parents, his family and many friends. Please keep the Oliveria family in your thoughts and prayers for continued healing and the power to persevere.
Friends of Shaun and Elissa Oliveria have started this page for their son, Mason, with their blessing.
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