The woman whose struggle to help her son overcome a gross deformity touched millions in the film "Mask" is facing another deadly battle: Her other son has AIDS.
Rusty Mason says she will fight for this son as hard as she fought for Rocky, who died in 1978, 10 years later than doctors had predicted. Mason's story of drug abuse, motorcycle riding and tireless devotion to her son was depicted last year in a film by Peter Bogdanovich, with Cher as the mother.
The story centered on how Mason helped Rocky ignore ridicule from peers and live years longer than expected despite his rare bone disease, which caused a severe deformity in his skull.
Mason said her son from a previous marriage, Joshua Mason, 30, was diagnosed in June as having acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which attacks the body's immune system. There is no cure, and doctors consider the disease terminal.
Joshua said on Friday that he was diagnosed as having Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer often associated with AIDS, but he is showing no major symptoms.
"If you know any of my story, you know I don't have any use for what doctors say," Rusty Mason, 49, said Friday from her apartment here. "They told me Rocky was going to die before he was 6 and he lived until almost 17 doing some of the same things Joshua is doing now."
Those things include holistic medical techniques designed to keep him from succumbing to the illnesses that kill AIDS victims, his mother said.