THE faint sound of a vital sign monitor beeping in the background, hospital wires pervading bed space, and a painful breathing tube down one’s throat – those are just some of the surroundings Cameron Masnayon has been in for the last few weeks.
Cameron is the victim of a heinous beating that left him in a coma for days. Now he must face months, possibly years, of extensive rehabilitative therapy to reclaim the carefree life he once lived.
Cameron’s doctors and nurses all concur his survival and astonishing recovery is nothing short of a miracle.
In the early morning hours of March 18, Cameron was beaten up by three assailants, aged 20 to 22, with a baseball bat to the head.
The beatings were so brutal that numerous bones in Cameron's face and head were severely fractured and he now requires facial reconstructive surgery. He was found lying on the ground in front of Vons Chicken in Harmon bleeding profusely from the face and was immediately rushed to Guam Memorial Hospital. Upon arrival, doctors performed life-saving surgeries on the 18-year-old.
Cameron was in critical condition for several days, but was stable enough to be transferred out of GMH to Naval Hospital, then finally medevaced to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu by week’s end.
Since arriving at Tripler, Cameron has had more surgeries, including life threatening ones in the brain and one in his carotid artery, which supplies oxygenated blood flow to his neck and brain.
Something as simple as breathing is also a chore for Cameron, who cannot breathe on his own without medical intervention. Soon, doctors will perform a tracheotomy to help him breathe better.
At one point his optic nerves were so swollen that he was left completely blind in one eye and was within days of losing sight in the other eye. But just as any “fighter” would, Cameron fought to have his vision returned.
A mentor and former ukulele instructor to Cameron, JB Borja believes “fighting and never giving up” is in Cameron’s nature.
“That basically describes Cameron,” Borja told Variety.
Borja described his first encounter with Cameron a few years ago. The young man entered Borja’s old shop, JB’s Ukulele Hut in Hagåtña, looking for ukulele lessons.
“During his first lesson, he had the hardest time of anyone I ever taught. In the five years of my business, he was truly the only student whose money I was going to refund because I thought he was so hopeless. But, I decided to give him a chance to see if he would practice before his next lesson a week later,” Borja explained.
The following week, Borja said not only did the young man improve, he mastered a song Borja taught him. Borja later learned that the determined Cameron sought the help of his cousin who was more experienced with the ukulele.
In fact, Borja said, Cameron became one of his most solid ukulele players.
“He might be down and the situation might look bleak, but Cameron will never give up and he will figure out a way to improve and win,” Borja said.
And his recent hospitalization is no different. Borja shared some of the discussions he’s had with the medical staff at Tripler, who all agreed it was a “miracle” Cameron survived the beatings.
Cameron’s brain surgeon also said she had never seen anything as horrible as the damage that was done to his brain and nervous system, but he continues to recover, getting better with each passing day.
“When we went to thank the neurologist after the procedure, she pointed up and said, ‘God gets the credit. I'm just His hands,’” Borja said.
Over the course of the week, Cameron’s recovery started improving. He began communicating by subtle nods and by writing on a dry-erase board. He managed to use his feet to push off the bed and push buttons with his fingers to adjust his position. Because his face is still severely swollen, Cameron laughs by shrugging his shoulders. In fact, the known jester’s spirits remain high and he didn’t miss a beat in playing pranks on April Fools’ Day, according to Borja.
Yesterday, Cameron was able to sit in a chair for the first time since his hospitalization.
“So if there's any one message that I know Cam would like to share, especially during this time of Easter resurrection celebrations, it’s that there's power in prayer and miracles do happen,” Borja said.
A great friend to Cameron and his family, Borja has helped the Masnayon family communicate with each other. He has also been posting updates on his and Cameron’s Facebook wall with pictures, videos and text to keep friends and family abreast of his medical situation.
Cameron’s story has inspired hope in many, including some from across the globe.
On his Facebook page, love and support is evident with an outpouring of messages of hope and well wishes.
But it doesn’t stop there. Community supporters have organized a 5K Run in Cameron’s honor. The Cameron Masnayon 5K Run Fundraiser will be held on May 6 at the Ypao Beach Pavillion. Organizers hope to raise at least $10,000 to support Cameron’s many surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, the three men alleged to have brutally beaten Cameron – Michael Gregory Rosal Jr., Daniel Alan Rosal and William Crisostomo San Nicolas Jr. – sit behind bars as they await trial. All three were charged with aggravated assault as a second degree felony and are being held on $100,000 bail each.