Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Marissa is My Hero

One day my sophomore year of college out in Ohio I returned to my dorm room after a meal to find my roommate, and swim teammate Marissa, looking quite forlorn. She had been away for a couple days to visit her parents back in PA. There was no way I could have prepared for the news she would relay to me at that moment. She had just received a phone call from her doctor informing her that she had a large brain tumor and she had to return to PA immediately.

Her PA visit had been one of her frequent trips to various doctors in order to discover what was causing her difficulties. For many months Marissa had been experiencing extreme nausea every morning. She also had moments of vertigo. For the whole summer between her freshman and sophomore years of college she was bounced around from doctor to doctor and told all sorts of things, including that she was pregnant. Pregnancy being an impossibility Marisa pressed on for an answer. People said it was in her head so finally a doctor scheduled her for an MRI, just to check. The results were supposed to come back on a Monday. The doctor didn't wait until then to spring into action. He found a golf ball sized tumor sitting on her brain stem, blocking fluid drainage and causing her seasickness like nausea. He wanted her back in his office. He wanted to get it out asap.

That all happened back in the fall of 2000. Marissa made it through her brain surgery to remove her tumor. She made it through the radiation treatments to breakup the irremovable tumor section. She returned to college to run on the track team. She graduated college. She became a coach and a teacher. Then at end of 2006 her symptoms returned, the tumor was back. This time it wasn't going away peacefully. In the past many months Marissa has gone through more radiation than anyone should have to endure. Her strength has deteriorated and she has lost her balance. I don't want to see her give up! She needs support!

Marissa has started a scholarship fund. It would brighten her days to get more contributions. Go here for more information:

Also to help Marissa her friend Brent McAuliffe set out to swim the English Channel. Sadly his journey was foiled by foul weather (Channel Swim Sunk by Storms). His attempt was still very noble. I am going to suggest to him that next he should go for the Catalina Channel (from Catalina Island to San Pedro, CA) swim as it is about the same distance as the English Channel. I will even offer to do it along with him!

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