The mother of young boy undergoing chemotherapy says the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid communities have helped to make a difficult situation easier for her family.
Allison Zerrahn, 27, of Saranac Lake, said Wednesday that her son, 5-year-old Mason James Stanton, has made it through two rounds of chemotherapy and his body is responding well to the treatment. Mason was recently diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare disease caused by a proliferation of abnormal cells, which has forced him to miss pre-kindergarten classes and kept his mother from going to work.
The disease formed a baseball-sized tumor near the top of Mason's leg, and the pain has often been debilitating, Zerrahn said. But she also said the chemotherapy and steroid medication have made things better.
Mason Stanton, right, is undergoing chemotherapy for 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 steroids let him walk and run and be a normal 5-year-old," Zerrahn said. "He's not laying around as much. That makes me super-happy.
"We'll go to the park soon," she added. "The initial shock of what's going on is over. I can relax a little knowing that it's getting taken care of."
Mason still has four or five more trips to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., to finish chemotherapy. After that, Zerrahn said doctors will do additional tests to see if the tumor has responded to the treatment.
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 be mailed or dropped off at 173 Prospect Ave., Saranac Lake, NY 12983.
Zerrahn has had to take a leave of absence from her job at the Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union to take care of her son, and without health insurance, the hospital and travel bills have been piling up.
But she said that's where living in a small community has turned into a blessing.
"It's incredible," Zerrahn said. "The number of people who have helped and who care, it's amazing."
The credit union has set up an account in Mason's name for people to leave donations. Last Saturday, Jessica Nugent Meeks, a Zumba dance instructor, held a "Zumbathon" in St. Agnes School's gym that raised more than $1,000.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Captain Cook's Bar & Grill on Broadway in Saranac Lake will host a "We Support Mason" benefit, organized by Jodi Gunther, to raise funds. The event features music and a raffle.
Meanwhile, Vermontville photographer Richard Gonyea has donated a photograph, which is on display at the credit union on Broadway, for a raffle. Gonyea said he knows Zerrahn from the credit union, and after reading a previous story about Mason in the Enterprise, decided he wanted to help.
"I took the photo to them ... and they want to start getting other items to raffle off like gift certificates of any kind," he said.
Gonyea encouraged other local artisans to donate items as well.
(Editor's note: Information about the "Zumbathon" has been corrected in this article.)