PH Patient’s Courage Lives on in Others
Inspiration comes in many forms: a friendly welcome from a stranger, a new life lesson learned from a son, the open arms and ears of a friend, the unconditional love of a brother. Inspiration comes in many forms and according to those who knew him, Mason Hoffman embodied them all.
Mason was 21 years old at the time of his death from pulmonary hypertension in June 2009. Despite his young age, Mason was a source of support and knowledge for other PH patients. Friends describe Mason as a young man who simply looked life straight in the eye and never blinked. It was this attitude that made him an integral part of the support system within the PH community. Thomas Mahrer, MD, one of Mason’s physicians, describes him as always optimistic, “He was bright, he was intelligent and he was emotionally and psychologically strong despite [his physical] deterioration.”
As an active participant in PHA’s online community, Mason provided friendship and insight to PH patients – both newly diagnosed and long-term survivors. When another patient was in need of encouragement, Mason was there with, what some refer to as, “Masonisms.” Mason’s commitment to assisting other PH patients was so innate that even as he struggled during the last few days of his life, he took the time to respond to e-mails from other patients seeking his advice.
One of Mason’s strongest messages was to make each day count. Mason completed high school at the age of 16 and went on to attend community college. He was an accomplished athlete, including water sports, skiing, golf and a champion motocross racer. Mason also completed enough in-flight hours to qualify for a pilot’s license. When Mason’s health kept him in doors, he channeled his seemingly limitless energy into family monopoly tournaments.
In 2008, Mason saw PHA’s 8th International PH Conference in Houston, Texas as an opportunity to meet many of his online friends in person and applied for financial assistance through the Conference Scholarship Program. According to his father, Dale Hoffman, Mason was excited when he received a scholarship to attend because it offered him the opportunity to continue to make a positive impact in the community. While at Conference, Mason called his father each day happily sharing news of old and new friends. When Mason arrived back home in Arizona he was elated; Dale recalls, “It was truly a great experience for him.” Those people who had the opportunity to meet Mason at conference in 2008 say they count themselves as lucky to have known him.
After Mason’s passing this summer, his family and friends discussed ways to honor Mason’s memory. Dale credits his son for being a strong influence in his own life, “From the time Mason was very young, I learned many things from him. It was quite amazing…to be inspired by a young lad just starting to grow up.” In that spirit Dale Hoffman established the Mason Hoffman Scholarship Fund and contributed funds from Mason’s life insurance policy along with his own personal donations. This scholarship fund will enable four young adult PH patients (ages 18-30) to attend the 2010 International Conference without financial burden.
Through the Mason Hoffman Scholarship Fund, Mason’s strong spirit will be passed on to young adults who will have the opportunity to attend PHA’s International Conferences. “Mason received so much from attending conference. This Fund will give others the opportunity to gain those same experiences,” Dale concluded. It is the Hoffman family’s hope that these recipients will see firsthand the generosity and fearlessness Mason inspired within the PH community, and that others will follow in Mason’s compassionate footsteps.