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  • The holiday's, round 2.

    Written Nov 26, 2012 11:58am

    Well, we got through Thanksgiving.  It was so silently heartbreaking for me though.  I forgave a night out with my friends Wednesday night for a good night's sleep to prepare myself for what I assumed would be heightened emotions for me.  I thought after all the first's without my baby boy, it would get somewhat easier, but I was dead wrong.  After a good night's sleep, Jim and I woke early to go run a 5K turkey trot race.  I had no clue that I had signed up for the wrong race earlier in the week, so the YMCA got a donation from me.  :)  Doesn't hurt to help out, but Jim signed me up for the race he wanted to run.  I probably should have ran the YMCA because the one Jim took me to was nothing but hills. UGHHH.  I survived it though and of course he did too but he did admit it was a rough one.  After that we returned homed, I was just cranky and angry all morning after that even though I did everything in my power to prevent it (thank heaven my boyfriend is tolerable and understanding because he got the brunt of it) Thank you honey for being an angel on earth.  Tears streaming down my face uncontrollably every 5 minutes missing my boy and knowing it was Cathy and her family's first T day without Ryan  and also my friend Crystal's family.  Unfortunately, I am not close enough to visit Cathy and her family in Michigan on T day, but I did stop by to Crystal's family and give them a hug.  They seemed to be holding up okay, but I know their hurt and pain and it's not easy.  They did have Crystal's son Logan with them, so I decided I don't have a son, he doesn't have his mommy and just took him to my mom's with me that evening for dinner.  He had already had dinner with his family, so I thought that would give his grandparents some time to grieve and maybe nap that evening.  He did very well with my family, other than asking me to buy him everything advertised on the television for Christmas. :)  Of course I ran out on black Friday and did get him something on his wish list, but the ipad and ipod are not going to happen this year. He is just the sweetest child and I know he's hurting.  I think it's good for him to be around Monica too because she is a good support for him.  Our family has known Logan all his life and he used to visit my mom's house with his mommy all the time.  I think being there after a while set in the reality and memories of his mommy for him.  We were all very supportive and loving to help him get through it.  He's a tough little boy and I know this horrific experience of losing his mother at such a young age will help him succeed to higher levels in life.  I look forward to watching him grow and succeed.  Our angels were definitely with us this weekend though.  So, there ya have it, we survived that day. Friday, I cooked a 21lb turkey my mother had gotten me and I named Herbert.  It was really my first turkey ever that I cooked.  Yes, I've been spoiled by parents and in laws and of course my Aunt Nancy and sister Jessica over the years.  Monica helped prepare Herbert and he was delicious.  She had her boyfriend Kenton over a few times to visit and to eat some Herbert with us.  He is so pleasant.  They are adorable together and make one another happy.  Mason probably sent him to her.  I just adore the kid, so well mannered and treats her like the princess that she is.  The rest of the weekend we just kind of hung around the house, got a Christmas tree, wrapped the presents I got on black Friday and decorated, so we are all ready. Even shopping for Christmas is difficult though when I see things I know Mason would have wanted.  I went into his room this weekend to access the attic and retrieve Christmas decorations.  That was therapeutic, but hard as well.  I did find his favorite timberland boots though and they just so happened to fit me.  So, I will sport them around remembering him every step I take.  I know if he were here with us still he'd be yelling at me for even trying them on, but now that he's not able to wear them he would definitely want me to.  I'd like everyone to please pray for a few people who are near and dear to me.  First, my sister Penny. She was admitted to the hospital last night for a PE in her lung.  I have full faith she is in the right place and she will completely recover because she is one of the strongest women I know.  Please continue to pray for those results though.  Also, Jim's grandfather was rushed to the hospital today after having a stroke.  Please pray for his comfort, strength and complete recovery.  Last but not least, Mason's friend Connor Gerber is having a very difficult time with neuroblastoma trying to take over his body and possibly his life.  He is a strong, beautiful, sweet, vivacious boy normally, but lately his mom states he's experiencing so much pain and decreased appetite.  He and Mason shared a love for video games so they'd spend a lot of time together when we were both at the RMDH together.  There were days they would even dress alike without realizing it.  They were buds, the cutest thing ever watching these two together.  Connor with his south african accent just tickled me each time he spoke and Mason trying to mimic him was even funnier. He wasn't so good at it, but he tried.  Connor doesn't know Mason is an angel.  I did send some of Mason's clothes up to him for the cold weather a few months back and his mom said he was so excited and stated "I remember when Mason would wear this, I wish I could see him though". To that his mom replied " I think you will see him sooner than you think". How heart wrenching to be put in a position to think on those terms about your child, but it's a reality to us parents.  I went through those emotions and thoughts as well as so many other parents who had kids fighting the good fight so hard.  You can read more about Connor at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/connorgerber

    With love, prayers and hope to all our fellow family, friends, warriors and angels  
  • Merry Christmas

    Written Nov 15, 2012 10:55am

    Hi everyone.  I know it's been a while from my last update.  We have been working on some big things in Mason's honor, as well as every other childhood cancer victim.  Things are going well in life, we are just working everyday, Monica is doing great in school.  She did transfer to Stuarts Draft High School from Monticello this past school year and is loving it.  She is still getting good grades and we need to start applying for college soon.. EEEEK, I can't believe my baby girl has grown up so darn fast.  Jim is still keeping busy with his running and this past weekend he came in 16th place out of 13,000 people in the half Disney wine and dine marathon. He, Monica and I had a wonderful trip to Orlando and met Ryan Regan's aunt Chris and her family there. Cathy (Ryan's mommy) was unable to meet us in Florida because little Nicholas is 4 months old and it would have been too much on her and Dan.  I am planning on visiting Cathy and the Michigan crew in late January though for Nicholas' christening.  I can't wait to meet the little man, wish time had permitted me to go there before January. 
    Things are going as well as expected though.  We all miss Mason terribly, but he is a big topic of conversation on a daily basis and drives our entirely family to things and strive for things we would never had imagined.  If you are fortunate enough to NOT know what it's like to sit in a hospital room with your child who is fighting some illness, thank the good lord above now.  For those of you who have had to endure this, whether it were cancer, pneumonia, a tonsillectomy, meningitis, whatever, then you will completely relate to our latest mission.  Last year, my friend Charity came up with a wonderful idea to collect toys and deliver them to the children at UVA who would be spending their holiday season inpatient.  Her initial thought was to give back to the community since so many had supported us through our journey and take my mind off of the fact that I was getting ready to face my first Christmas without my son.  So, on December 20th last year, Mason's 6 month angelversary we had collected enough toys to provide the children and their siblings with several toys each.  It was so rewarding to see the smiles on the kids faces, the gratitude from their parents and to know that we were contributing to a great cause.  That was when the social worker had brought down a very special little girl named Sadie.  She was a neuroblastoma victim, age 9 and had the most contagious smile and loving heart.  The first thing she said to me when I told her she could pick out a toy was "what can I choose for my brother".. She truly loved her brother.  I've kept up with Sadie over the past year, she was going to help distribute toys to her fellow victims in the hospital this year, but she lost her battle October 24th.  My heart broke when I spoke to her father Rob that day, but I knew that just like me and so many other of my friends who went through this, he would be a much wiser, stronger person from the experience.  I spoke to him the other night and he is holding his own.  His son Trenton told him "daddy, at least Sadie can walk now". How heartbreaking is it to know that a child like Trenton is feeling grateful his sister can walk again now that she's passed on because the disease was so hard on her.  Please say a big prayer for this family as they continue on with their lives, face the upcoming holiday's and try to find the good in this terrible loss in the upcoming months and years.  It's not easy to carry on, it's not easy to not ask why me, but somehow people do survive it.  I personally have to do good for others to help heal, I have to feel like making a difference for others is my calling and that's what I'm focusing on.  I know my baby boy was sent to me for a reason and my family and I have a big calling in life.  We are definitely finding out little by little each day what that calling is.  Also, prayer for a special little boy whom is fighting viral meningitis right now and very dear to my heart.  Christopher Toman (aka, one of the Tomanators) who supports childhood cancer, shaves his head every year to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer is now battling an illness of his own.  I know whole heartedly that he will make a complete recovery, but please pray for his comfort and strength during this time.  We love you Christopher..  Last but not least, on August 31st I lost a very dear friend of mine of over 23 years.  Crystal Lynn Clark (aka, Crystal Lynn Morris) was only 36 when her father found her lifeless body in her home that day.  Crystal and I were best friends through middle school, we have shared so many memories, laughs, cries, giggles, sleepless nights, fun times and losses together.  She was always there for Mason, she was the one who was watching him prior to his diagnoses of stage IV neuroblastoma at age 5.  She would call me concerned at work to tell me the new symptoms going on with Mason and the new pain he was experiencing.  She was truly an angel on earth and loved with every fiber of her body.  She saw me through so many tough times and never left my side.  Logan is 8 years old, Crystal's son she leaves behind, also her husband Mike is who like a brother to me and my siblings. I ask that you pray for her family and friends as we continue this journey in life without her contagious laugh, witty and comical jokes and lively personality.  She was family to us, a sister, her parents are my second parents.  I have spent a lot of time with her parents and sister since the tragedy and hope that in some way I have helped them through, but they have helped me more than they could every imagine.  Together we will get through the toughest losses of our lives and become better people from them.  I know that Crystal is with her Grandmother's, her Grandfather and Mason watching over all their loved ones.  What a reunion that must have been seeing her join them.  We just miss her dearly here on earth and I know her husband and son are suffering greatly without her physical presence as well. Fly high my angel, take care of our boy Mason up there.  I love you so much and miss you more everyday..

    Well, once again we decided to coordinate a toy drive in Mason's honor and called it Mason's Toy Box.  There are several ways you can help us with the toy drive.  Right now, we have about 14 drop off locations, ranging from Richmond, VA to Charlottesville, VA to Va Beach.  I am sure there will be plenty of toys to distribute to both MCV hospital and UVA hospital, but I'd love to reach out to the parents of these children as well.  If you have a facebook, please go like the community page at http://www.facebook.com/MasonsToyBox and share it as well with your friends, requesting that they like it and share it too.  So far, we have over 300 likes and NBC 29 news has contacted me about covering the story to help promote the event.  We also have a fundraising event at James River Brewery on Monday Dec. 3rd from 5pm-9pm where all proceeds will be donated in Mason's honor to the toy drive.  With the proceeds we plan to purchase gift albums for the mom's and dad's of these patients.  The gift album items can be seen through the links below. 

    For the moms, a "just for her" album: https://www.myribbongift.com/Product/ProductCarousel?productID=3475


    And check out "Guy Gear" for the dads: https://www.myribbongift.com/Product/ProductCarousel?productID=749210

    to help us with the purchase and funding of these gift albums, please make your donation through a paypal account under masonstoybox@gmail.com and help spread the word. 

    There is also another fundraiser to collect gifts this Sat in Petersburg VA.  A special thanks to the band No Last Names who will be performing at Longstreets Deli in Petersburg, November 17th from 930pm-1am and ask that in lieu of a coverage charge, you bring an upwrapped gift instead for a sick child.  Please visit their event page on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/events/245991445528579/

    We are so grateful for everyone who supports our cause to help sick children and find a cure for childhood cancer each and everyday.  Without your support and generosity, there would be no difference in these children's lives.  Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts. 

    Receiving Donations of new, unwrapped toys 'til December 19th at these great locations:


    James River Brewing - Chris Kyle

    561 Valley St. Scottsville, VA



    Rehab Health Care - Jessica Barbour

    1717 Allied St. Charlottesville, VA

    (434) 971-8088


    Spectacle Shop - John Bright

    1047 Berkmar Cr. Charlottesville, VA



    Greene Xtreme Cheer and Tumbling - Sarah Amburgey

    13307 Spotswood Trail unit 9 Ruckersville, VA




    Mud Dauber Pottery - Suzanne Crane

    4225 Earlysville Road

    Earlysville, VA



    Salon Debonair - Deborah Lee

    1814 Patterson Ave. Richmond, VA



    Fahrenheit IT - Mian Fouche - Prevett

    4470 Cox Rd. suit 275 Glen Allen, VA



    The Rack - Robert Dennis

    9056 W. Broad st

    Richmond, VA 23294

    (804) 270-1162


    Haley Toyota Certified Center

    8301 Midlothian Turnpike

    Richmond, Va 23235

    (804) 545-7411


    Keiter CPAs

    4401 Dominion Boulevard. 2nd Floor

    (Receptionist Desk)

    Mon-Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm.

    Glen Allen, VA 23060

    (804) 747-0000


    South Beach

    13923 Hull St Rd

    Midlothian, VA 23112

    (804) 608-0048


    Michael and Son

    5845 north Hampton blvd Va beach,Va23455

    (757) 217-6764 Mike Kiser


    Longstreet's Deli

    302 North Sycamore St.

    Petersburg, Va 23803

    (804) 722-4372


    City Dogs in the Fan

    1309 W. Main St

    Richmond, VA 23220



    If you would like to contribute a parent care package or financial contribution, please call Mason's Toy Box coordinators.


    Charlottesville: (434) 960-0950                                       Richmond: (804) 712-0352



    Written Jul 24, 2012 2:05pm

    Oh boy, it's been a while.  I know many of you are wondering how we've all been getting by, what we are up to, how does one truly survive the death of a child.. Well, Mason's death has hit all of us hard.  Some of his family members have grown closer, others have lost touch.  It's truly sad when family separates after such a tragic event and I know he'd never want that, but such is life.  I miss him more everyday, but I feel him with me.  I cope the best way I know how and some day's are extremely hard to face.  We did get through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mason's first bday and every other holiday that passed.  I have to admit, the hardest of all was mother's day for me.  I saw son's everywhere with their mom's at dinner or out and about and knew I will never have that with my son.  I felt sorry for me, which if you know me you know that's something very very rare for me to feel.  Monica is doing okay, she's your typical teenage girl.  She does miss her brother tremendously and holds a lot of her pain in, but she also has been able to bond with her other brother Parker who will be 2 next month.  Parker was just a little baby when Mason was sick and passing, but he knew who his brother was and when Parker's mom would bring him to visit Mason, boy did that light up his day.  Monica is enjoying that he's older now and how much affection he shows her.  She did get her very first job, not working many hours this summer yet, but she's working at a VETSS which is a local veterinarian hospital. It's off airport Rd and if you have animals, you should be bringing them there.. :) 
    I have been working my full time job, building my marketing business and also working for an event company to expand my network and get into to concerts and football games free.. :)  It keeps me busy, but I've also been heavily involved with raising funding and awareness for neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers through the Ishan Gala Foundation.  This year, they have appointed me event coordinator for the annual Splash for a Cure event which will be on Sat. August 11, 2012 from 5pm-9pm.  Please come see us at ACAC Waterpark, it's going to be unforgettable. You can see more information about it at www.splashforacure.com and you can purchase tickets @


    So, as many of you know already, but some may not, my dear friend Cathy Regan lost our precious Ryan Regan early February of this year.  I knew he had taken a turn for the worse and took leave from work, Jim and I hopped on a plane Sat. February 4th to go say our goodbyes.  As we sat in our seats for a 5am flight, I received a text at 443am stating Ryan had become an angel at 435am.  It broke my heart to not say goodbye to him before he departed.  Ryan and Mason were so close, I just knew Mason was watching over him, but when he passed before I got there I felt both saddened and relieved.  I am not sure I could have handled watching another child I loved so dearly suffer to their death from neuroblastoma.  Some part of me believes that Mason was there coaching him saying it's okay Ry, come with me.  My mommy is coming and can't be here for this and your mommy can't handle watching you suffer anymore.  They are both at peace, but their families are left behind to suffer the loss and agony of not having them in the physical each and every day.  I love Ryan like my own and after Mason passed it was so difficult to ride that rollercoaster with his treatments, getting better, getting worse, fighting to find treatments.  I did it though for him, for his mommy, for their family and for myself. I was honored to help with funeral arrangements and a huge celebration of life party for him, as well as prepare and read a eulogy for him at his service.  A part of me had to be involved in it because I no longer had that with Mason and I had been there through Ryan's battle the past 6 years with them.  On a happier note, Ryan wanted a baby sister so badly prior to passing.  His mommy did get news that she was pregnant before he passed and he was elated, although he insisted it would be a girl.  The baby was born last Sat, July 14th. She delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy and named him Nicholas Ryan.  I wish I were there for her through that, but time did not permit.  Jim's sister Megan also delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy that day and named him Grant Benjamin.  We were so ecstatic for both births, Grant made Jim an uncle. He is very excited to teach Grant everything he knows, but we won't allow him to teach him EVERYTHING.. :) 

    So much has happened since I last updated, but those are the highlights.  I know I'm missing a lot, but will promise to update regularly for everyone.  In brief, there is life after death, there is a special presence of my baby boy with me everyday and although sometimes I feel like the world is ending without him, it doesn't.  I have gotten through the past 13 months and I will continue to get through the rest of my life without him in the present, but it won't be easy.  Continuing his fight, in his honor, for other children keeps me alive, my beautiful 16 year old daughter keeps me alive and my loving boyfriend, family and friends do as well. As the old saying goes, during times of need it's the people you least expected to be there that will lift you up and those you expected to be there will disappear. 
    This held true for me and was very shocking in many cases, but I know who my loving, true friends and family are now.

    Please keep our dear friend's in your prayers as they are local, fighting osteosarcoma and having a difficult time right now.  Alyssa Divers is a local hero to many of us and she is a sweet, innocent 10 year old girl who doesn't deserve any of the pain and suffering she is experiencing from this nasty beast.  We love you Divers family, stay strong. 

    Also, a little sweet child named Sadie Ritter who graciously interviewed with our local news back in December when I did a toy drive in Mason's honor for the children on the inpatient unit at UVA is losing her battle to neuroblastoma.  She and her family really need our prayers right now as well. 

    With love prayers and hugs to all our warriors, angel warriors, family and friends.

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