Health Team

Better treatments help in fight against leukemia

Posted October 9, 2014 5:52 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2014 6:19 p.m. EDT

A visit to North Carolina Cancer Hospital is a once-a-month routine for 6-year-old Mason Brantley, who has leukemia.

“They have to access my port, and then sometimes they've got to give me medicine,” he said.

Mason’s ordeal began during a ski trip with his dad in April 2013, when he developed bad cold-like symptoms along with a high fever. The usual treatments didn't work.

“So, they sent him over to get X-rays to see if he had pneumonia,” his mom, Marsha Brantley, said.

It was pneumonia, and blood tests revealed a low count of infection-fighting white cells.

“They came in and told us it was either a really bad virus that had attacked his system or it was leukemia,” Marsha Brantley said.

Tests at UNC Hospitals confirmed the disease.

“It was a total shocker, you know,” said Brandon Brantley, Mason’s father. “We were totally blown out of the water.”

Fighting the disease in the beginning meant many days in the hospital with chemotherapy, breathing treatments and a large daily regimen of medications.

“Medicine was very hard in the beginning,” Marsha Brantley said. “We're very proud of him. He now takes medicine like it's no big deal.”

The treatments are working. Mason is now in remission and halfway through a three-and-a-half year maintenance phase of treatments.

His parents are optimistic for his future and for others with the disease.

“They have come a long way in the fight against leukemia, and we're so very blessed,” Marsha Brantley said.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is hosting Light the Night walks across the state, including one this Saturday night on the Halifax Mall in Raleigh. All of the money raised goes to pay for treatments that are saving patients' lives.

For more information on Light the Night or to register for a walk, visit the organization’s website.