Rare bone disease blow for runner
It was almost like the end of the world for cross-country competitor Mason Jeffery when a rare bone disease forced him to give up running.
The 9-year-old from Palmerston North was amped to win his next race and show his friends how fast he could go.
But during a game of touch rugby last year he found he couldn't play properly because he had pain in his hip.
"Because I had a limp I went to the doctor. They thought I had a groin injury and then we found out it was Perthes disease," he said.
"It was a bit sore because it kept clicking. I thought it was a pulled muscle."
In Perthes disease, the top of the femur softens and breaks down because of a lack of blood flow to the hip joint.
The cause of Perthes is unknown and there is no cure.
Mason was given an operation in April to remove a small wedge of bone, allowing blood flow back into the joint and encourage bone growth.
But he was not allowed to bear weight and was excluded from sports and running around with his friends.
Mason's mum, Kylie Jeffery, said her son was crawling out of bed in pain when they still thought he had a groin injury.
"He will need a hip replacement when he is about 40 or 50 years old . . . and he will get arthritis. That could start any time," she said. "Some children, when their bone grows back, it grows deformed and they have a limp, but for Mason we're on the right track and it's growing normally."
Mrs Jeffery said there were only two or three cases of Perthes disease diagnosed in the region.
"The doctor had to google it before he called me, so we were quite concerned," she said. "But the earlier you get it, they may not need to intervene."
Mason said the worst part about Perthes Disease was having to give up sport, and watch his friends run cross-country without him.
"I can't play that much sport any more but this year I'm going to get my plates out," he said. "I'm just allowed to run a little bit now, but I've been playing wheelchair rugby which is cool, people get tipped over.
"Last year, I watched everyone do cross-country. I was happy for my friend who won, because he was racing for me."
In March, Mason will take part in the Relay for Life with the FAB40 team to raise money for the Cancer Society.
A swimathon fundraiser to support Mason's team will take place on February 23, from 9am to 4pm, at the Ashhurst Aquatic Centre.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter a team, minimum of four people, cost $10 per person.