The first time Isaac Mastroianni walked in the Prince Rupert Relay For Life it was for his dad, Mark.
In 2017, The Sole Mates team walked for Mark, and for friends and family who were touched by cancer.
Then, Isaac was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus. Doctors discovered that he’s missing part of his pituitary gland and he needs a pill to balance the fluids in his body.
Six months later, Isaac and his dad travelled to Vancouver for check ups and to see a hockey game — they called it a “medical boys’ trip.”
“When we went and got the scans, it was like complete shock,” he said, shaking his head.
He had two tumours in his brain.
Doctors at the BC Children’s Hospital said they didn’t want to take the tumours out quite yet, they wanted them to grow before surgery.
“So when we came home I felt like a normal kid, like nothing. It felt unreal,” Isaac said.
One by one, he started telling his closest friends. He felt fine until one day when he was playing basketball, the light in the gym started to affect him, and his vision went blurry. The next day he was medevaced down to Vancouver.
His treatment plan started April 1, 2018. “Funny April Fool’s joke, eh?” He said with a smirk.
He had surgery to remove the smallest brain tumour right way. Then, on the first week of chemotherapy he did three days as an outpatient, he’d come to the hospital for a few hours, get his bag of chemo and head back to the Ronald McDonald House, where his parents were staying with him. His younger sister, Gillian, visited but had to go back to Prince Rupert to continue school.
He battled through six rounds of chemo. Having diabetes insipidus also complicated treatment, making it even more uncomfortable than it already was.
Then doctors discovered the larger tumour had grown. When it was first discovered, Isaac said the tumour was just over two centimetres — before the surgeon took it out it was five centimetres.
While the Mastroianni’s were living in Vancouver at the Ronald McDonald House for five months, back home it seemed as though all of Prince Rupert was rallying to support the family. A movement — #imwithisaac — spread across social media, and more than $25,000 was raised at a dessert auction organized by Isaac’s swim club.
Friends and family also took part in the 2018 Relay For Life. His uncle FaceTimed Isaac to show his high school friends shaving their heads, each getting a turn to chat with him.
How did that feel?
“Bigger than life. I felt so loved and that I wasn’t by myself because everybody was there, everybody was just so nice and supportive,” Isaac said.
It took 10.5 hours to remove the complicated tumour.
“I have the battle scars,” he said, with the photo to prove it.
It was another three or four weeks of recovery from the surgery before he was given his last four chemo treatments. But he wasn’t done yet. Isaac, along with his parents, went to Seattle for six weeks of proton radiation therapy, to give him the best chance of doing sports again.
“After Seattle, we journeyed home,” he said.
Twenty friends were hiding in his bedroom to welcome Isaac back.
Slowly, he reintegrated back to school, sports, his life.
“I’m just thankful to live in Prince Rupert because even though it’s a small town, something like this happens and everybody just comes together,” Isaac said.
Now, at 15 years, almost 16, Isaac is considering what he’s going to do after high school. After his journey, he’s thinking he’d like to be a nurse or a doctor.
The Relay For Life will take place on May 25 at the Prince Rupert Middle School track from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Shannon Lough | Editor
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