Andrew Masse was an amazing, caring, kind and beautiful little boy.
He died in December of 2018. He was just 12-years-old. So young – but such an old soul.
”Andrew was 7 years old when he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer,” Jennifer Masse recalls, “We spent the next 5 years trying different combinations of chemotherapies and radiation, gamma knife surgeries and a stem cell transplant, before we finally exhausted all options and he entered into hospice care in 9/2018. He passed away peacefully at home, holding mine and Mark’s hands, on 12/19/18.”
He was mourned by what seemed like the entire Western New York community. Countless people across Western New York – who became a part of “Andrew’s Army” – were devastated by the news of his passing.
Andrew Masse was loved by many – including a variety of police agencies – who truly made him one of their own.
The support meant everything to the Masse Family. “The community support kept him going and it kept him active,” Andrew’s mom, Jennifer tells me, “His involvement with the police agencies got him moving, got him outside, kept him practicing with his beloved knives and bow and gun. He was so proud to be an officer and the SWAT team drug house raid he did with the Town of Hamburg was probably his greatest accomplishment. He never found out it had all been staged just for him – he passed on thinking that he handcuffed a real drug dealer and loaded him into the back of the cop car.”
Imagine what that must have meant to Andrew.
Andrew was remembered by his friends at Lakeshore Middle School with this amazing photo spread. It’s simply beautiful, isn’t it?
Andrew had been battling cancer since age seven.
For nearly half of his young life – Andrew battled the monster that does not discriminate. Cancer attacks even our youngest and most innocent. Their journey is incredibly challenging – in many ways.
For Andrew – a young boy – his mom says his was a life well lived.
“He had such a full life in those 12 years – road captains for motorcycle runs, playing guitar with Dierks Bentley at Coca Cola field, SWAT teams, Sheriff training, Lip Sync video with the town of Evans police, Roswell commercials, movie productions ( he had a small part in The True Adventures of Wolfboy, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival July 2). We took him to Florida many times, Atlantis, Mexico, waterparks everywhere, behind-the-scene tours of the Buffalo Zoo and Niagara Falls Air Base, and probably a dozen other events I can’t remember right now.”
In other words – they lived life to the fullest while they had their sweet boy. They gave him fun, exciting adventures- and squeezed a lifetime of joy into just a dozen years.
For the Masse’s – it was a gift. Now, with Andrew gone – they are working tirelessly to keep his spirit and memory alive.
“Instead of mourning his loss, I prefer to celebrate his life. We had 5 extra years with him that without modern medicine and wonderful doctors we wouldn’t have had. There were alot of good stretches of time during those 5 years, and we made the most of them. I can look back on the countless beautiful memories I have, and smile, and laugh, and I have no regrets.”
No regrets. Only loving memories. And important life lessons.
“I was talking to a friend recently about the trouble he and his wife are having trying to conceive their first child, and all I could do was tell them not to give up. Being Andrew’s mom was the biggest, most meaningful accomplishment of my life. I kept him warm, and secure, and loved from his first breath until his very last. And I told my friend that even if it turned out the same way, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, and if that wasn’t a good recommendation for parenthood I don’t know what is.”
The Masse family – along with the Clune family started a non-profit to help others. It’s called The Care Project.
When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, it affects the entire family. The emotional, financial, mental and physical toll truly impacts the entire family. Jennifer and Mark Masse know that all too well.
“Backyard Broadway was a youth theater group in Tonawanda / Clarence that performed concerts to raise $ for the families of sick kids. Back in 2014 Andrew was the second child they sponsored. Two years later, when they heard through facebook that he had relapsed, they contacted me again because they wanted to throw him another concert. Since we had been in Children’s oncology program for several years already we knew there were many more families out there dealing with the same issues we were. I suggested to Backyard Broadway that we join forces, form The Care Project, and try to help as many as we could. I knew that the value of a $10 Tim Hortons card, given to you after a sleepless night in the hospital, far exceeds its monetary worth. We currently have 46 WNY families on our mailing list, and several times a year send out mailings with Tops and KwikFill gift cards. Andrew and I used to go from room to room when we were at Roswell and Children’s for his treatments. It gave us both a lot of joy to hand those out to the other kids, and it is giving Mark and I alot of peace and comfort to carry on the charity in Andrew’s name. We hope to join forces with the Punt Fund in the future – we share the same ideals and the same desire to help the cancer kids in WNY (and we LOVE Gwen!)”
For the record – everyone loves Gwen Mysiak at the Punt Fund. The work they do – is nothing short of amazing. Look them up if you have time – here is a link to the WEBSITE.
They were inspiration for The Care Project.
Jen estimates that it costs a family over $100 a day in incidental costs just to have a child in the hospital. Gas, parking, food, child-care expenses for the other children at home can quickly add up, not to mention lost wages of taking time off of work to care for a child. It’s overwhelming – mentally and financially. Jen will never forget when Andrew was in the hospital a few years ago and someone handed her a $10 Tim Hortons card.
Now, she’s made it her mission to pass that type of kindness on – well into the future.
They can’t do it alone and hope the community will continue to be incredibly generous as always.
Thecareproject.net is the website. It offers a direct donation link, and gives ideas for simple fundraisers that can help us fill the gas tank of a family having to drive an hour every day to bring their child for radiation treatments.
It can help send a Tops card to help the parent at home feed the siblings while the other parent is living in the hospital with their sick child. It doesn’t have to be a big event. A lemonade stand, a bake sale, a dress-down day at work. The truth is – that $10 Tim Hortons card can suddenly make someone realize they aren’t alone.
Jen says it’s been a rough year – the experiences over the last five years have left them all heartbroken – but also better, more compassionate and stronger people. They will keep fighting for other families going through the worst of times.
I was incredibly fortunate to meet Andrew when I was working on the Make-A-Wish Radiothon a few years ago. His smile was contagious and he was just the sweetest little guy.
His sweetness lives on.
His legacy is large. His life filled with meaning. His memory never to be forgotten.
TheCareProject.net – please help if you can.