An Ace Cancer-Fighter

Student-athlete serves up a win against the disease

By:
Jeffrey Javier, Dominic Bonuccelli photo

Mia Mason knows what it’s like to overcome adversity. 

At age 12, she was diagnosed with ependymoma, an extremely rare form of brain cancer. With support from family, medical treatment and determination, Mason was able to beat the disease. 

Fast forward to 2016, and she is on the biggest stage of her life playing for the University of Arizona in the inaugural NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Behind in the third set, Mason and her best friend, Kalei Mau, rallied. At game point, Mason served an ace and won. 

For Mason and her mother Jeannine Mason, the victory was an emphatic period at the end of a difficult journey. 

“To be at that moment after everything we had been through — it was incredible,” Jeannine Mason says. “It was so inspiring to all her teammates and friends who knew what she had experienced.”

Today, Mia Mason is a junior in the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television and still plays for the Sandcats. 

Her father, Grammy Award-winning producer Harvey Mason Jr., and mother, a former UA indoor volleyball player, are both alumni. 

“I grew up around my dad’s music business, and I played volleyball with my mom,” Mia Mason says. “Even though I live in California, Tucson is my second home and the UA was a natural fit for me.” 

Jeannine Mason says she’s proud of her daughter and her roles as an advocate for pediatric cancer research and an inspiration for children living with the disease. Earlier this year, they established the Mia Mason Fund for Immunotherapy Research to support ongoing efforts to cure the disease at the UA Steele Children’s Research Center. 

“The doctors and researchers at the UA Steele Center are doing amazing work,” Mia Mason says. “Supporting them will help make a difference in the lives of children and their families.” 

Donate to the fund here.