Hello to every pair of eyeballs that has taken the time to read this blog of Marissa's, to every mind that has wrapped itself around this truly shocking and life changing reality that is called her life, to every parent praying for health over their children, to every friend of Marissa- whether good, bad, fake, old, new...but mainly, to every heart that has shoved aside its own desires and concerns for the moment- and made room inside of them to take in Marissa's story.
I know alot of people have been following Marissa's updates from my facebook account- I am posting those updates on here today for those of you who have had trouble viewing them- for those of you who I didnt tag or failed to remind- it was nothing personal- just a very busy and long day- so please forgive me.
Fun background I do want you to know (mainly for the people who have NO clue why I have hacked into Marissa's account)
I met Marissa in kindergarten- at Temple Elementary. So we go back far enough to remember borrowing each others purple jelly shoes from the Gap, cheating on spelling tests on Braves Day at school in Dr. Glover's 3rd grade class, Marissa tying a string to my tooth and attaching it to the door knob of her playhouse-swearing to me that "THIS WILL WORK MEG", catching 100 fireflies and releasing them in her bedroom just KNOWING that when we turned the lights out- the fireflies would light the whole room up.. We used to get excited when her mom would take us to the movies in her giant blue astro van to watch movies like "Hunchback of Notre Dame" on the big screen.
We buried a time capsule in her backyard, told all of our dance friends that there were dead people buried in my front yard, tried to convince her brothers their house was haunted for ONE FULL YEAR. No, we didn't go to the same high schools, but did we take prom photos together every year- we sure did. We may or may not have, but definitely did, sign each others yearbooks. People- This is the girl who convinced me that it would be the "Greatest idea I have ever had"- to send each other flowers on Valentine's day in the 8th grade and label them "from your secret admirer"...
If you live in Temple and your house has ever been rolled- Yea. We had a part in that.
For those of you confused about family relation- we started that little white lie in the 6th grade... & well.. you see how long we have kept it running. But to me- she feels like nothing less of family.. cousin may be a bit stretched when in reality, she is more of a sister to me.
I was there for Marissa when Aunt Jennifer passed away. She wiped my tears when my Poppy passed. Skip thousands of heart felt memories later- and she was standing beside me the day I walked down the aisle and married my best friend in the whole world. & Like so many others that love her- I intend to be there the day she walks down that aisle, and has those babies, and more currently. I intend to be there- the day she smacks down this tumor and whatever comes with it.
Now you know a little bit about the connection with this strong woman I look at each day! Every life she comes into- she touches and leaves a lasting impression on.
I know Marissa has been so touched by every person who has encouraged her with letters, cards, kind words, and prayers. She is so blessed, and she knows that. She has not muttered one word of negativity and expressed a sense of loneliness throughout the entire process. I encourage you all to stay by her side- for this journey still has many twists and turns coming.
I find it fascinating that so many people have learned about her, grown to care for her, even without actually knowing her. To all of the survivors of brain tumors and brain cancer- thank you. Thank you for fighting and winning before her. Thank you for setting the example- and than- standing along side her- when you don't even KNOW her.
You are all diamonds & you will be blessed for your compassion that you offer her.
Now- as I promised you. The updates from yesterday- the day or surgery:
SURGERY DAY- Update #1
Well well well... The blogging torch passes for only a moment I'm sure. Anyone who knows Marissa well enough knows- nothing holds her down for too long.
We got to the hospital this morning around 930 am- she was scheduled to go into surgery prep at 10am- 3.5 hours later- the nurse JUST walked into the lobby and took her back. Aunt Christine went with her. Uncle Brad, My mom, and I are holding down the corner of the waiting room right now.
(Side note on her waiting time: Apparently her doctor had an emergency patient bump Marissa out of her spot for surgery- which threw a wrench in his gears for the whole day.. Marissa's surgery was scheduled for #4- so we had to sit and wait thru the emergency patient & #3.)
For those of you wondering- she was and has been in really really good spirits this morning! Our moms had us both laughing so hard until we had to take a bathroom break- we have all been reminiscing of times come and gone. Memories from old, new, funny, ironic..
Marissa and I have always had the longest history of making fun of our moms together- to their faces.. and our moms dish it right back out.. Among our lobby laughs today- new inside jokes have been established- such as:
"I will never do ZUMBA again without a pantie-liner-- I learned my lesson the first time"- Amy Spivey, 47 years old
"O my gosh- the new American Idol will let all the 15 year olds try out this year-- all because of that JASON BIBER kid"- Christine Parks, 47 years old
Our moms.. have made this day hilarious.
After offending a few people by our volume of laughter and conversation topics- Marissa and I realized that we are still in our pre-kindergarten modes. We see each other and get so loud and obnoxiously hyper fast- then we crash- and yes- as expected from any 4 year old- we spread our pea-coats out on the lobby floor and took a nap.
It is this day- that I will store in my memories of us. Laying here with my oldest, best friend.. and knowing that we are both shoving the reality of the day to the side- and it really wasn't that hard to do.
Our moms left the lobby to go grab some caffeine- and It grew really quiet between Rissa and I. This is the first time today we have just been alone.. Between our cell phones blowing up, nurses probing her and her parents for info every few minutes, and the roaring laughter our fabulous mothers- we realized- we were alone and it was quiet.
She leaned so close I thought we were going to share a new secret- and she swallowed back her tears and said- "Meg, can we pray?"
You know how when you get that lump in your throat- that burns your eyes and makes everything in your torso HOT.
Yea, pretty sure we got that.
I knew her anxiety was finally peeking thru-but here is what shows me her true strength..
ANYONE AND EVERYONE IS PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF BEING POSITIVE. We all are. Marissa has chosen that road thru this journey- and it looks "Strong" to everyone.. But her strength is so much more than that smile you see when you visit and her common joke of the "brain tumor"...
True strength is shown when the SUPER POSITIVE person, feels fear and weakness- and turns to GOD first. Not to her blog, her texting, her cards and quotes people have sent..
But in her time of anxiety she called upon the one thing that WILL heal this situation.
She said, "Can we pray?"
My mom walked over and led the prayer b/c even I couldn't hold it together long enough to mumble actual words out.
After that- we walked down the hallway to find the maternity ward (not because we feel our clocks ticking- but simply to appreciate the beauty of life.. the beginning of a new person's journey... and we kind of like laughing at some of the names people pick!) After 10 steps past the waiting room- we got distracted and found ourselves right back with our moms.
It may have been God's timing because no sooner than we greeted our lobby buddies, the nurse was ready for her.
Aunt Christine could have lifted a car with the adrenaline that kicked in after the nurse asked for "Parks".. She jumped up- threw her bag to my mom and grabbed Marissa's paperwork.
We all just starred at each other. Marissa's face went flush and that lump came back into all of our throats.. She came in for hug to each of us, My mom, then me, then her Daddy.. The longest hug of all-the most precious display of love.
She said, "Oh my gosh I am nervous now.. But I've got this."
Keep praying and wear your Gray to show your support for brain tumor awareness!!
Per my latest facebook status update: Marissa was taken into surgery 15 minutes ago- The nurse has explained that the surgery will be a bit more extensive then what the Dr. explained to her! But her mom said she is doing good back there! We have all eaten and we are now back in the waiting room to wait for round 3!
round 1: waiting to get called into pre-op
round 2: from pre-op to OR---
round 3: O.R.
Expanding on the Nurse- Marissa and her family have been under the impression that the doctor planned on drilling a small hole into the side of the skull today- however, Aunt Christine informed us- during pre-op the nurse told Marissa they would actually be cutting out a piece of her skull- over the size of a walnut. She found out she will be losing more hair than originally promised- luckily Jamie Best - of J. Best Salon in Villa Rica has graciously offered to do extensions for Rissa, free of charge (after she recovers from the surgery and hospital stay)
also- on an awesome note- for those of you keeping up with Marissa's blog- check this out!
Uncle Brad got a phone call today from someone that has stumbled upon her blog... fast forward to the section where Marissa states she, "Would like a bike- pink and sparkly".
Well, this wish may come true- as a Bike Shop has contacted Rissa's family and would like to donate this bike to Marissa! I would shout out more credentials- but I don't have all the info I'm sure, and I would hate to say the wrong business name!
On another note- I want to thank all of Marissa's friends and followers for being so awesome! You have touched her life in the smallest way!
The constant encouragement you have offered has been amazing!
Her parents keep getting blessed with food & financial help for Marissa!
Thank you ALL!
I know I don't know all of your names & I don't even know how she knows half of you- but from the bottom of my heart- thank you for loving and supporting her!
Since Marissa has been moving from room room, a few more guests have started to join us here: Candace Saxon, both of her brothers, & her future sister-in-law!
Her family defiantly says they feel the warm wishes and prayers with them today!
Just what the doctor ordered
Yep. you guessed it- we are in the waiting room and the doctor is here.
Here is the 411:
1st thing to be thankful for- Marissa being treated here and not Arizona. the doctor literally said to us JUST NOW, "I have no idea what the doctor in Arizona was thinking when he diagnosed her- what he found is nothing like what we found in there today" Arizona informed her that she had a walnut sized tumor with Swelling around it- which was causing the seizures. Infact- the "Swelling" was "Gliomas" dividing.
2nd thing to be thankful for- The NURSES are not the DOCTORS- no disrespect to any nurse out there- but the one she saw today particularly- we are glad was not her doctor. WHY do I say this?- Well the nurse who explained to her that her skull was coming off- WRONG. the doctor just assured us that once they got in there- he decided to go with the pin sized drill! PRAISE THE LORD!
Furthermore- Here is the diagnosis:
They removed pieces of the tumor- the piece will be sent to be tested for cancer and we wont find out anything for ONE week from today! Long week to wait- but she will be extremely sore and tired over the next week- so hopefully thru focusing on rehabilitation- she won't worry herself too much with next Friday. As for her parents- the longest week of their lives, I'm sure.
The gliomas- basically a group of cells which are forming the "tumor" in the lobe and on top of the brain!
if they divide rapidly- this will mean this specific tumor is Malignant-- aka- cancer
If they don't divide or divide slowly- then this is just a mass of cells grouped together- they will be removed- basically blasted with a form of radiation or medicine to kill those little suckers!
The doctor would not give anyone a definite YES or NO- on whether or not is in infact- cancerous. however, the thing concerning everyone is the fact that these gliomas are growing rapidly enough to cause multiple seizures within two weeks of one another.
Aunt Chris and Uncle Brad are overwhelmed, but with fear of the next steps & lack of answers today, and JOY- as Marissa went thru the surgery fantastically!!! a surgery which usually takes 1.5 hours on average- they finished in an hour!
The doctor is POSITIVE that Rissa won't have a long hospital stay- he is even predicting her moving into a normal room tonight or in the morning- and on to Temple within a day! The only thing that will slow this process down for marissa- is the seizing, hemorrhage, or too much swelling. Her body has been fighting off seizures for over a week now- but the doctors feel as if they are a very possible thing to experience after this surgery!
Everyone- we need to believe together for a positive test result for next friday, we need to believe for a short stay here and quick recovery- and RIGHT NOW- say a prayer and believe for NO SEIZURES.
She will stay with her parents in Temple until they return to Emory for the biopsy results next Friday!
For those of you hoping to visit her at the hospital- I will let you know her room number and her expected stay time as soon as I know!
For those of you hoping to see her after she recoops for a few days- I can let you know her parents address!
Shout out to Candace- Who spelled all of the medical terms in here- after explaining them to me!
Ok- The princess has awoke!
She is swollen- as expected- from the fluids, etc.
She has the expected patch of hair missing- but not too bad- and nothing Jamie can't fix for her! Her family got to go back into recovery to see her- and after Candace and I went back- We prepared to see the worst, but surprisingly- it was uplifting to see her that awake and talkative. She is in pain- but they have already started her meds.
They predict she will go into a regular room tonight- and leave tomorrow sometime (so for those of you planning on sending flowers and gifts to the hospital- I would wait and send it to her mom's house- since that is where her full recovery will be spent this week)
Aunt Chris says that anything in the envelope family- small gifts even should be sent to P.O. Box 305 Temple, Ga 30179
Anything shipped like UPS, flowers, food etc: 82 Lakeview Drive Temple, GA 30179
Her final determining factor which will let us know if she is going into ICU tonight or a regular room tonight- is: Her CT scan.
Which she is in now. Pray for no abnormalities on the scan so she can get into a normal room!!
12 Hours LaterThe CT was good.
They found blood on the brain but the Dr. confirmed that it is nothing serious- only the aftermath of major surgery to her brain.
We know her motor skills and personality are the same old Marissa as we have already experienced these comments from her in the past 30 minutes.
"I want the ugly socks and gown off- they are not agreeing with me.."
"I would like frozen yogurt- not that nasty jello- jello is like a giant booger in your mouth"
On the more blunt side- some of the conditions of the the recovery room are very startling to my mom and I. It's very hot and sticky in there- noisy- and apparently the nurses have been quite rough when handling Marissa.
When they moved her off of the gurney- they were so rough with her that after the CT was over she refused for them to touch her again. She informed them that she would be walking herself back to her own bed.
This is so disheartening to me. This has been an amazing hospital- she has the best doctors in her corner- but I wish the recovery room nurses were making her feel a bit more comfort.
Laura and Colleen are on their way with dinner for the family and some goodies for Riss! It will be good to see some more smiling faces here- My mom and I are the only ones left in a huge waiting room- and we have already nicknamed all of the fish in Emory's over-sized tank.. Just what are the compensating for with that tank I wonder?? Ga Aquarium will not be threatened by this attempt dear Emory.
Candace had to leave but she was able to tell Marissa goodbye before leaving .. (yes we are still waiting on a room) Candace informed us that when she entered the recovery room Marissa has a rag over her head and she let Candace and the nurses know that she "Does NOT feel well at all, and would like her room now."
The magnitude of pain that the head and brain went thru today have made her ultra sensitive to EVERYTHING. Even the nurses told us we do not need to use a normal speaking voice to her- the very sound of the words send vibrations and signals of pain straight thru her.
She is now on 3 types of pain killers and we are all just ready to see her into a room so she can sleep tonight.
The doctors would like to discharge her tomorrow- so we are gearing for that. For all of you who have stuck with us today- THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are a blessing.
~~~~~UPDATE THUS FAR~~~~~~ One prayer answered super fast- she just got a new nurse in recovery- Aunt Christine came out THRILLED about how nice the new nurse is! YA
Everyday it's True- You Make All YOUR mercies New..
This should sum up the adventure of surgery somewhat- even though we all know this is only the beginning of a journey in her life- that only faith, support and patience will help her thru.
I spoke with Aunt Chris this morning- Marissa is headed home today! Emory is planning on releasing her around 2pm!
Marissa did however find out from her doctor today- that the group of cells has indeed grown in size and number since the stay in Arizona. The doctor is not giving her or her family any answers that can lead us believe one way of the other- but the doctors do intend to have a treatment regiment set in place by Thursday or Friday of next week- which is also when she receives the biopsy results.
As I said earlier- this will be a long week. But nothing that can't be handled.
Marissa was highly overwhelmed by the volume of calls ad texts and emails- she is literally- taken over by the amount of support- It brought tears to her eyes.. which her family and friends can not thank EVERYONE enough for.
Continue to follow her updates and keep those prayers coming! More answers soon- but regardless of the outcome of that biopsy- God is on the throne- and Marissa's life was set out before she was even born.. God doesn't lead us down roads that we meet a dead end on. He doesn't give us more than we can bear. & he will never leave, nor forsake us... So regardless of results- Marissa has got this.
Thank you for letting me share with you some details while she is recovering and still heavily medicated! I am positive she is ready to connect with you all!