Mason Brooks, 10, Wilms Tumor

Everything about Mason Brooks—a sunny 10-year-old from Louisiana—revolves around baseball. He loves to pitch and play first base; he loves to watch his beloved Louisiana State University Tigers take the field; and when a surgeon removed a cancerous tumor from his side last August, he described it as—of course—the size of a baseball.

“Which I thought was pretty cool,” Mason now says. “How many people have a baseball inside them?”

At the time of the surgery, though, it didn’t seem so cool. Mason had begun to feel pain in his right side when he coughed or sneezed, so his mother brought him to the pediatrician. After running ultrasounds and CT scans of the area, the doctor confirmed that Mason had a tumor on his kidney.

The family was referred to Texas Children’s Cancer Center, and in August, Mason was found to have Wilms tumor, which is the most common type of kidney cancer found in children.

However, physicians at first questioned whether Mason could have that disease.

“See, it normally appears in children who are younger than 5 years old,” Mason’s mother said. “Because Mason was 10, doctors wondered whether that was it. Once they took it out, though, there were no doubts.”

Fortunately, Wilms tumor is one of the more treatable types of pediatric cancers. Approximately 500 new cases are diagnosed each year in this country, and the prognoses normally are good.

In Mason’s case, the surgery was followed by eight months of chemotherapy, which ended in May of this year.

Throughout his ordeal, Mason endured the loss of his hair and separation from friends and family. Mason and his mother found an apartment near the Cancer Center where they could live while Mason underwent his treatment.

“Basically, we quit our lives to move here and make sure that Mason had the best shot at beating this,” his mother said. “And every day I wished that I could take his place and be the one to get sick…not him.”

But for every negative, Mason said there were positives, as well.

“I got an autographed baseball bat, and I met Kareem Jackson from the Houston Texans,” Mason said with a smile. “Plus, I got to meet the cheerleaders!”

“Mason’s the strongest kid I know, and because of that, it gave me strength and hope,” his mother said. “Look…cancer happens. The best thing you can do is stay positive and know that one day it’ll all be over.”

For now, Mason looks forward to returning to the baseball field to begin practicing for his future career…as a major league baseball player, of course.