SARANAC LAKE - An energetic young local boy will begin six weeks of chemotherapy today as doctors hope to treat a baseball-sized tumor near the top of his leg.
Mason James Stanton, 5, of Saranac Lake, the son of Allison Zerrahn and Trevor Stanton, was recently diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare disease caused by a proliferation of abnormal cells. The disease is treatable, but Zerrahn, 27, of Saranac Lake, said it has forced him to pull out of pre-kindergarten classes at Bloomingdale Elementary School for the remainder of the year.
Because of that, Zerrahn herself has had to take a leave of absence from her job as a member service representative at Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union.
Mason Stanton, right, begins chemotherapy today as doctors hope to treat a tumor near the top of his leg. His mother, Allison, hasn’t been able to work since her son was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis.
"The doctors said they don't know what causes this, but they have seen it in some children," she said.
Zerrahn said she found out about Mason's disease after several visits to a local doctor and multiple trips, including some by ambulance, to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. She said it started with Mason complaining about leg pain.
"I said, 'Mason, it's just growing pains; you'll be all right,'" Zerrahn said. "But then he began limping badly, and we brought him to the doctor. He would be screaming in pain, saying, 'It hurts. It hurts.' He was at the point where he couldn't even walk at the end of the day.
How to help...
Monetary donations to Mason Stanton's trust account can be made in person or through the mail at Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union, 197 Broadway, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. Donations of food or money can also be mailed or dropped off at 173 Prospect Ave., Saranac Lake, NY 12983.
"He gets tired, and he asks to go to bed," she added. "He'll take a three-hour nap."
Zerrahn said that's been tough for an active 5-year-old.
The disease has also taken its toll financially. Zerrahn said medical bills and travel expenses have already topped $10,000 - and that doesn't include the cost of upcoming chemotherapy sessions. She said Mason doesn't have health insurance, but she's working with Franklin County to sign him up for Medicaid.
Zerrahn said her friends, family and the community have been overwhelmingly supportive throughout the ordeal. Lisa Meyer, a loan officer at the credit union, set up a trust account in Mason's name which lets anyone make a donation. Zerrahn will be able to access the account as needed.
Additionally, Brian Reinisch, a friend of Zerrahn's from Lake Placid who now lives in Texas, set up a Facebook page called "Please Help Mason." People have been leaving messages of support there, and it also includes information on how to help the family financially.
Captain Cook's Bar & Grill in Saranac Lake will also host a "We Support Mason" benefit at 7 p.m. May 4. More details about the event will be released soon.
"The support has been great so far," Zerrahn said. "The fire department gave us a donation, and the police department is going to get Mason a portable DVD player so he can have that during treatment."
Zerrahn said her son has been a trooper so far.
"In the beginning, he was having a horrible time," she said. "He was constantly getting pricked (with shots) and undergoing tests. He was really stressed out. But by the time we went in for the last check-up, he was really good.
"As much as a 5-year-old can understand what's going on, he does seem to understand," Zerrahn added.