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Who is Mason Hass, and why does he have a web site?

Mason is a boy that lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.  He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on 12.Feb.03.  This site is dedicated to our friends and family all over the world so that they can monitor his progress.  The site is maintained as much as we can, but life has a tendency to take over.



Wow, almost a whole year since we posted last?  Well, we got rid of our servers at home (saving us a bunch of money in Utility bills), so we had to find a new home for the web site.

A couple things have happened since last year.

1)  We lost a friend that we made at Children's Hospital named Shane Schofield.  He was eighteen and lost his battle with CML 2 weeks ago.  He didn't have an exact match for a Bone Marrow transplant, and never could get his cancer under remission to try some riskier transplant techniques.  We will miss you big guy.

2)  Mason will have his 5 year anniversary from original diagnosis on Tuesday this week.  Our hospital (and most cancers) considers the patient cured at the 5 year mark.  This is HUGE!!  We have told Mason he can pick anywhere he wants to go for dinner on Tuesday.  It is a toss up between Maggianos and Boston Market.


Almost a whole year since we posted last?  Guess you can tell that we have been busy!

Mason continues to do great in all regards of life.  We have monthly checkups at Children's hospital, but Mason's blood work returned back to what a normal kid's blood work looks like back in July.  He continues to play soccer, basketball, baseball and skiing and enjoys being a first grader (he really like the school lunches, ewwww).

In February 2007, Mason was featured in a newspaper article in the Castle Pines North Connection Newspaper,  Click here for a PDF copy.  Mason is also the patient honoree for Team in Training again, this time for the Triathlon teams.  Dad is trying to stay on the team, but finding it hard to make the group workouts.

Below are some new pictures from various time through the last few months.


We just got back from a "victory" vacation in Mexico.  We call it Victory as we have been promising Mason a trip to the beach once he is all done with treatment.  He had a blast, the place we stayed at had a wave pool, a lazy river, and oh yeah the beach.  Here are a couple pictures.

That's Mason and daddy in the ocean in the middle Here's Mason (left) and his cousin Cray showing off their new tattoos
Here is Mason howling while cousin Lauren buries him in the sand Here's Mason learning to shoot a bow and arrow
Mason (in red shirt) swimming with his cousins Lauren and Cray Mason in the town center of Playa Del Carmen
Mason and Daddy sizing up his Brasil soccer jersey purchase Kendall, Mason's sister enjoying a banana
Mason (left) and Cray enjoying "Tigers" Mason (right) and Cray on their way back from Mexico at the airport


Off Therapy Appointment.  The hospital staff celebrated Mason's off therapy appointment by bringing in a cake and singing, it was really touching.

Kendall and Mason enjoying cheese at Mason's off therapy appointment A little off therapy party with cake!



We had a few of the hospital staff over for dinner including Janie Kaplas (nurse practitioner), Sally Aldrich (Mason's nurse) and Sally's son Andy.  It was great to see them outside of the hospital.  We recalled the time when Mason was diagnosed, and many stories during treatment.  Deanna made great photo albums for them so that they could remember some of the moments we had with Mason over the last few years.  Phew, anyone have a tissue?

Nurse Janie, Mason and Nurse Sally at our house


Surgeons removed Mason's mediport located near his left shoulder, between the armpit and neck.  This has been a cool device, but has always been a drag for Mason, so he was happy it came out.  We got to keep it, it is about the size of a quarter with a rubber bubble on one side, and a tiny spicket on one side where a catheter is inserted in a vein/artery.

Dr.  Allshouse performed the surgery and said it went well.  The only issue was that the catheter that was in the vein had calcium build up on it, which is an indication that the body started assimilating it.  This made it more difficult to remove, and extra care was necessary so that it wouldn't break.  Mason was up and running around within an hour of surgery and Dr. Allshouse did a nice job of cleaning up some scaring that had occurred when the port was inserted.

Dad, Mason, and Mom in the OR before removal of the Mediport Dad holding the mediport after surgery



Mason is officially off treatment today!!!!  Mason took his last dose of Chemotherapy today.  The coolest part for him is that he can now have whatever he wants to eat or drink at night.  We had gotten used to eating early and finishing everything by 6:00 because he wasn't allowed to have dairy within 2 hours of taking his nightly Chemo.  He celebrated by having M&M's around 8:00 pm.

He will continue to have blood tests once a month for the next year, but it will only be a finger poke.  The only medicine he will have to take is Septra which helps prevent Pneumonia in patients that have low immune systems.  He will only have to take Spetra on the weekends for 3 months.

After 1 year of being off treatment, he will only have to get blood tests every 3 months.  After two years off treatment, ALL patients are considered cured.

Mason taking his last dose of Chemo Dad throwing away remaining pills




Daddy lost a server hard drive that had Mason's web site and other backup info on it.  The last backup he had was from October 03', yikes!

He will keep looking for more recent data, but it isn't looking good.

To sum up what happened in three years of treatment:

  • 2 hospital admissions for fevers where there was bacteria in the blood stream
  • Several trips to the ER in Denver and Seattle because of Random fevers.  Usually late at night, in bad weather, after a bad day at work.  Treatment was usually to pump in some antibiotics
  • Several times Mason's ANC would shoot way up near 3000, several times it would drag down below 1000.  Especially the last year it would fluctuate wildly.
  • Mason continued to play soccer, roller hockey, baseball and basketball throughout treament



Mason officially entered the Maintenance portion of therapy today!

Maintenance will last approximately 2.5 years.  We will continue to give him treatment at home, and he will receive daily doses of a chemotherapy called Mercaptopurine (6mp), once a week Methotrexate, and 5 days a month a steroid called Dexamethoasone.  We will only need to go to the hospital once a month for an IV chemo called Vinchristine, and once every three months he will receive a spinal tap of Methotrexate.

In addition, Mason has grown 1.5 inches in the last 2 months and gained 2 pounds.  This is a great sign that his body is recuperating and starting to grow normally again.

All in all, life just got easier and more routine.


After a normal checkup at the clinic today, the doctors pulled Mason off Chemotherapy for two weeks because his ANC was too low.  It seems that the Chemo he takes every night is more potent to him after Delayed Intensification.  They will be readjusting the dose after a couple weeks to make sure that it is still effective, but not too affective.


Mason and family went on vacation to Sandestin, FL from September 8-16. Mason had a blast in the ocean, making sand castles and playing in the pools. No one got sick or too sunburned, and a good time was had by all.


Mason passed counts today to enter the second to last phase, Interim Maintenance. This phase involves taking nightly chemo (6MP), and additional chemo on Wednesdays, and Septra (to prevent Pneumonina) on the weekends.


For the third week in a row, Mason's ANC is hovering around 500 which means that we can't really go out much, and have to stay away from crowds.  While this is a bit of a burden, the good news is that he has not needed any transfusions of blood or platelets.  There are signs that his ANC is on the rise and he will be done with the delayed intensification stage.  August 27th is the date that the next phase, Interim Maintenance, is set to begin.  Since we are participating in a study, his ANC must be above 1000 and Platelets must be above 100,000 to "pass" on to the next stage.

We also continue to receive more donations for the Relay for Life, which brings our total near $12,000.  All money must be turned into the American Cancer Society by 31.Aug.03 in order to count against our team total.  We will post the final here when it is all said and done.


Team: Mason Hass wins!!  Thanks to contributions from our friends and family, Team: Mason Hass raised $11,578.00 for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life which was the most out of any team, corporate or private.   The "prize" for raising the most funds was to shave the head of Dan Masey, the CFO of the American Cancer Society, Denver.  Below is a picture of Marcus shaving Dan's head in a public display at the end of of the event.  Thanks to all that participated ad donated!! Click on the pictures below to expand.

Marcus shaving Dan's head The Team: Mason Hass campsite Mason and Oma (Grandma) Hass The crowd watching the festivities


Mason's counts were high enough today to start the second half of Delayed Intensification.  This second half is more intense than the first, and his body is exposed to completely new forms of chemotherapy.  This can lead to new side affects so we will be on the look out for fevers, rashes, etc.

As part of the treatment, we will need to administer one of the chemos at home through Mason's mediport.  This isn't our favorite thing to do since it means that he has an IV in his chest for the next few days while he receives 4 days of Ara-C.  Dad will need to take the port out on Saturday.


Mason received the last of the first half of chemo over a week ago.  Although he seems to be happy, hungry and in a good mood, his counts where at 230 today.  This means that he is delayed at least a week until his counts are above 1000 to start the second half of chemo during this phase.


Mason's third week of delayed intensification begins.  He received Doxorubicin and Vincristine via IV today at the hospital.  He has been in great spirits the last 2 weeks, but gets tired and hungry very quickly.  He is at times very angry, we call this the "mad drunk" or the "beer talking" because it is a result of the steroids he has to take.

The blood test today revealed that his ANC (ability to fight infection) is at 239.  Generally, an ANC above 2000 is normal, and below 500 they make you wear a mask.  So, we will be going into seclusion for the next couple weeks as his blood recovers.  This will be followed by another 3 weeks that take his ANC back down again.


Delayed Intensification begins!  Mason had good counts so he is able to begin the next phase of treatment.  He also finished his antibiotic treatment the day before.

The goal of delayed intensification chemotherapy is to expose Leukemia cells to drug combinations different from drugs already given.  Cells the may have developed resistance to the previous drugs can be killed by the new combination.  It will last 58 days but often longer because of milestones with counts must be met, if they are not met continuing treatment is delayed on a week-by-week basis.

Doxorubicin(Adriamycin) - Chemotherapy given through IV.  Red in color.  Can cause Nausea/vomiting, Hair Loss, and  Mouth sores.
Dexamethasone(Decadron) - Steroid given twice daily orally.  Occasionally turns Mason into a mean, hungry, drunk.  Also round "moon" face.
Vincristine(Oncovin) - Chemotherapy given through IV.  Clear. Can cause Constipation, Jaw Pain, and Hair Loss .
Peg-Asparaginease(Oncospar) - Chemotherapy given through shot in legs.  Clear.  Can cause loss of appetite, skin rash.



Mason is doing very well on the antibiotics, he is back to normal other than having to hook up an IV three times a day.  It is actually a little plastic ball that can be placed in any position.  So, he can grab it and go wherever he wants.

We were finally able to see Dr. Zeitler the Endocrinologist at Children's Hospital.  After analyzing Mason's blood, urine, X-rays, Gamma scans, and bone density scan he gave Mason a pretty good prognosis as far as his bones are concerned.  There is no Bone disease, and he believes his bone problems are all related to the Leukemia or the medicine used to fight the Leukemia.  Mason will begin getting a medicine to build his bones through an IV on Monday and will continue to get it every three months.  The reason he will get the medicine is to combat the negative affect of the steroids which weaken his bones.



Happy to be back home.  We are going through training with nurses to administer the antibiotics through Mason's mediport (IV) for the next 7 days.  No new growth was seen with blood cultures which means the antibiotics are working well.



After a good nights sleep, Mason woke up about 7:00 am feeling great.  We went on about our normal business, but the doctors called at 8:00 to tell us that his blood culture had grown which indicates bacteria in his blood stream.  Bacteria has started to grow around his medi-port (which is also called a central line.  Normally, patients are admitted immediately when this happens, but because his counts are great, and the antibiotics were working well we were to be discharged and Children's Home Care would assist us at our house in giving him more antibiotics.  The problem is that they were very busy and they could not accommodate us at home.  So, we are spending the night in the Oncology ward on the fifth floor.

We are supposed to be discharged in the morning and Children's Home Care can come train us to hook up his IV.



Mason woke up at 1:00 am in the morning with a bad dream.  We immediately felt a lot of warmth coming off his body.  We initially thought he just got overheated from his covers, but taking his temperature revealed a temperature of 103.5 F or 39.75 C.  We are supposed to go to the emergency room for temperatures over 101, so we went to Denver Children's Hospital from 2:00 am until 6:00 am.  It was believed the he had a viral infection, but more testing would be necessary.  Doctors gave him antibiotics and Motrin and sent us home.  Delayed Intensification has been postponed for one week until June 25.

Mason later woke up at 9:30 feeling good, no fever.  The doctors later called and wanted us to be at the hospital for more testing and 10:30.  He got stronger antibiotics and we were sent home.


Mason has been on "Interim Maintenance" for exactly one month.  He is set to start "Delayed Intensification" on June 18.  The Interim Maintenance phase is actually two months, to give his little body a rest.

The Delayed Intensification phase is basically hitting his body again with all the drugs used during the first 28 days to put his cancer into remission.  This means that his immune system will be very low, forcing us to live in a "bubble" for 58 days.  It is basically sternly reminding his body that making cancer cells is bad.

Mason continues Physical Therapy twice a week, and is walking and running well.  His gait (how his toes are pointed) is progressing well, and most of the time looks and behaves like a normal three year old..

For now, we are enjoying the great spring weather and taking advantage of his good spirits and energy.


All of Mason's counts are normal, which means that he moves on to the next phase of treatment call "Interim Maintenance".  While still receiving some basic chemotherapy at home, Mason does not have to return to the hospital until May 20.  At this point he will start "Delayed Intensification" which is a much more difficult phase, but marks the end of harsh treatments.


All of Mason's counts are normal, including his ANC and Platelets.  His is feeling great and trying to walk everywhere, and doesn't want any help from mom and dad.  We also found out that we should not be alarmed about his bones, as approximately 20% of Leukemia patients experience deficiencies with Calcium and Vitamin D.  He is now taking a Vitamin D supplement daily to try and get his bones to "turn over" quicker.



All was normal with this visit.  Mason's platelet count is coming down to normal.  His ANC has dropped a little bit because of the chemo therapy he is on, but it is still near normal for him.



All of Mason's blood counts are within the normal range for a boy his age, including his ANC.  His ANC is at 2300 which is right in the middle of the acceptable range.  His platelets are elevated, which can happen with treatment, so he will be taking some medicine to make them less "sticky".  This is the first time he has been back to normal, which allows him to continue progress towards walking.   He is at the stage with his walking where he can easily stand up and scoot around objects he holds on to.



Mason started Physical Therapy at Children's Hospital today.  He has not walked since the beginning of February due to pain in his bones and a skin infection on his ankle.  His is very anxious to walk, but his legs are so atrophied that they can not support him.  He is able to pull himself up on things and stand, but can not walk without support from mom or dad.  We will work with him strengthen his muscles and he will remain in Physical Therapy for at least a month.



Mason started the next phase of treatment called the Consolidation period today.  His ANC was supposed to be 1000 in order to enter this period, but his were only at 630.  The doctors decided to start the treatment regardless because other indicators such as his monocytes were at an amazing 19.5% which indicate he should hit 1000 on his ANC within the next day or two.  All of his counts are looking very good, and most are back to normal for a kid his age and weight, the ANC is the only thing that is low which is normal for kids going through treatment for Leukemia.



Forgot to post this last week because of the blizzard in Denver (see pictures here).  Thanks to the assistance of all our neighbors, we made it to the hospital on Thursday 20.Mar.03.  Mason had blood tests on Wednesday so that he could proceed to the next phase of treatment called consolidation.  Unfortunately he has a bit of a cold and his ANC is near 500 (see vitals), he needs to be above 1000 to proceed to the next phase.  We hope to start treatment again on 26.Mar.03 when we have another appointment at the hospital clinic.

We also should start physical therapy this week to teach Mason to stand and walk again.  Hi legs are so atrophied that they can not support his weight.  He is starting to pull up on stuff again, so we hope it is a quick process to get him to walk again.



Mason had a series of skull X-rays done to rule out rare forms of bone disease.  All have come back perfectly normal.  We are awaiting some additional tests that include blood and urine, but they will not be ready for a couple weeks.



!!!Mason is in remission!!!

There are two parts to today's major milestone.  The first is a bone marrow aspiration that determines the percentage of cancer in the bone marrow.  The second are some extra tests that were run to rule out rare bone diseases because of the compression fractures in Mason's vertebrae.

The bone marrow biopsy came back with 0% cancer, which is outstanding.  The blood tests also show that his bone marrow is correctly manufacturing good components of blood instead of bad ones.  This is a sure sign that he has beat the cancer.  The next three years of maintenance is to "teach" the bone marrow never to make bad stuff again.  Mason was supposed to go to the next stage of therapy called the "Consolidation" phase today.  The criteria to start Consolidation is an ANC above 1000 and platelets about 100,000.  While his platelets have been above 100,000 for over a week, his ANC is at 968.  This is usually close enough, but because the research study program he is participating in, he is not allowed to proceed until above 1000.  So, he gets an entire week off of medication so his body can recover a little bit (this is a big relief for Mom and Dad).

The second part of today regarding his bones will not be conclusive for several weeks.  We will update then.



Mason had been having chronic lower back pain.  X-rays showed that his pain is due to compression fractures in his lower vertebrae.  Compression fractures are described as weakening of the bone to the point where they are now "squashed" instead of their normal rigid shape.  This is not a serious issue as they should harden and become their normal shape, but the orthopedic doctors felt it would be best to put Mason in a back brace for the majority of 3 months.  The Endocrinologist (gland doctor) has asked that blood and urine samples be taken to make sure the compression fractures are from Leukemia and not from some sort of bone disease.  He doesn't have to wear the brace all the time, which means when he really yells at us we take it off.