Three-year-old Mason Steckler had a bad cough. The doctor told his mom, Melinda, human resources manager at Montana-Dakota Utilities in Bismarck, ND, it might be pneumonia. A week later, the cough persisted. At a second visit to the doctor, an X-ray revealed a tumor that filled half of Mason’s chest, compressing his airway. He was immediately airlifted to Minneapolis. That night, Mason’s condition deteriorated; he was put on a ventilator and underwent radiation to break up the tumor.
Thankfully, Mason pulled through that night and, after spending six weeks in Minneapolis, returned home and underwent two years of chemotherapy to ensure the cancer did not return.
Today, 13-year-old Mason is healthy and active in wresting, football and track. The Steckler family is celebrating 10 years of being cancer-free at the flagship Brave the Shave St. Baldrick’s event March 14. His cousin, aunt and grandmother are cutting off their ponytails and Mason is shaving his head for the second year in a row.
“Without the life-saving technology at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, this would have been a very different story,” Melinda says. “Supporting St. Baldrick’s means supporting research that led to treatments like the one that saved Mason.”