Toddler's Snoring Turned Out to Be an Early Sign of Leukemia: 'We Were All Sobbing'

Mason Keating died of leukemia at age 3 after his initial symptoms were thought to be caused by a viral infection

<p>Kennedy News and Media</p>             Ellie Keating and her son Mason.

Kennedy News and Media

Ellie Keating and her son Mason.
  • In December 2019, Ellie Keating noticed her son, Mason, struggling to breathe at night

  • She brought him to the doctor, who told the her that her son had a viral infection

  • Eventually, as the symptoms persisted, Mason was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Ellie Keating began to notice that something was off with her son in December 2019.

According to the Daily Mail, her son, Mason, struggled to breathe at night and had a persistent high fever. Between January and March 2020, Keating, who lives in England, took her son to four appointments with his general physician. Despite him also developing night sweats, doctors diagnosed Mason with a viral infection.

Then, after Mason started vomiting and struggled to stand up, Keating, 29, called an ambulance, and he was rushed to the hospital.

"As more symptoms were coming into the mix, it just didn't sit right that it was a typical viral infection," Keating told the outlet. "He was then vomiting, and his poo looked like he'd swallowed tobacco; it was really bitty. He wasn't eating, he was a very good eater, and he wasn't drinking, which meant no wet nappies. I know that's a number one alarm when a child doesn't have wet nappies."

Eventually, Mason was discharged. But only a few days later, Keating found herself at a different hospital with Mason, where a chest x-ray and blood tests revealed he had t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of cancer affects the blood and bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

"One of the main worries for me was this cough; it was very, very chesty," Keating told the DM. "It started to make him snore at night, and he'd never snored before."

She continued, "A cancer diagnosis hadn't even entered my head as a possibility; I didn't know the symptoms. When they told me Mason had cancer, the noise I made didn't even sound human. I was bawling my eyes out and screaming. [Then] as I was starting to get my head around the fact he'd got cancer, I was hit with 'he's going to die.' I had no chance to research alternative therapies; I had no time."

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<p>Kennedy News and Media</p> Ellie Keating and her son Mason.

Kennedy News and Media

Ellie Keating and her son Mason.

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Mason underwent an intensive four-week regimen of chemotherapy and steroid treatment. However, despite the treatment, in July 2020, he died. He was 3 years old.

"[On the day he died] there was no warning," Keating told the outlet. "We were doing handprints and footprints with the two nurses, and I was showing them videos of him, then all of a sudden it was just four big breaths and he was gone."

"The nurse just grabbed me because I was going for the floor. She grabbed me and she held me, and we were all sobbing in that room," she added.

Keating, now a mom to 3-year-old son Blake Ollis, said she's sharing her late-son's story to encourage people to get their children's health "checked out" and raise awareness of leukemia symptoms.

"When I've seen things like that or read magazines and read people's stories I've always thought 'that won't happen to me,'" she said. "I think that's how a lot of people think, especially with childhood cancer. Until it happens to you it won't ever cross your mind and I think that needs to change."

"My message to parents would be to 100 percent stand your ground and trust your gut because early diagnosis could save lives," she continued. "I couldn't save Mason, but if I can save one child's life I've done my bit."

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