BRENTWOOD – It didn’t take long for eight-year-old Mason Park to claim the top bunk.
But, considering the camping trailer he was in was his own gift, he was allowed to make that choice.
Mason and his family, including parents, older brother, and twin brother, converged on Cain Camper Sales in Brentwood at the end of July for the Children’s Wish Foundation’s presentation of the camping trailer to the youth.
“He kept having fevers, was pale, and wasn’t keeping up with his twin,” said Mason’s mom, Jenny, about knowing something was wrong with her son. “We took him to the doctor and she said he had the flu. But when it continued, we took him in again and got blood work done. The next day, we were at the IWK and they diagnosed him.”
The diagnosis was acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Mason had just turned three years old.
“We started treatment the very next day.”
For months, Mason underwent treatment – rounds of chemotherapy, IV treatments, steroids, and chemotherapy pills at home.
“It wasn’t fun,” said Jenny.
Up until the diagnosis, Mason was your typical toddler – busy playing with his twin brother, Maddox. He loved to be outside.
It took three years of treatment before Mason was healthy again.
“He transitioned very well. Now he’s a normal kid and not worrying about not eating and not worrying about taking his medication. He’s so excited,” said Jenny, as Mason ate some cake following the trailer presentation.
“We were terrified and had no idea what to expect.”
At the time, Mason’s father, Jared, was working in Alberta and very quickly made his way home to his family.
“It was really scary,” he said.
Mason’s check-ups with the doctor are now every three months, which will gradually increase as he gets older. When an adult, he’ll need to continue those check-ups to make sure the leukemia hasn’t returned.
When Mason knew he’d be receiving a wish through the foundation, Jared said he had been on the foundation’s website.
“He kept seeing the kids receive their campers and we had just gotten a new truck, so he said, ‘Dad, now we can get a camper,’” said Jared. “We’d gone camping in tents before, but we would usually end up in rain.”
One of the first excursions the family was going to take was to Port Hood to visit Jared’s mother, and they said they’d probably take it mainly around the province.
For Shelley and Paul Cain, this was the third wish they’ve been involved in with the Children’s Wish Foundation.
“It’s mainly because Paul had a sick child who is no longer with us,” said Shelley. “Having gone through that, this is kind of our way to pay it forward.”
Paul said he understands what parents go through when a child is sick.
“We have a full understanding of the stress it puts on the family, not just the patient,” he said. “If we can help relieve some of that stress by doing this, that’s a big deal.”