Thursday, December 15, 2011

Megan Here for Marissa

Hey everyone! Marissa wanted to keep all her friends, family, loved ones, and in general- Prayer Warriors updated as her surgery unfolds throughout the day..

As unfortunate as it is, I could not be in Texas with her (which I know many others would choose to be there as well)... But Aunt Christine will be sending updates throughout the day. These updates may be a bit short and to the point- but before we get started with brief updates, I wanted to give you all some 411 on the process Marissa is heading into today.

If you follow her blog, or have any connection to her at all- you know that this little tumor is a stubborn thing. But her spirits are  better than they have ever been! The plans that the doctors have for today's surgery are: Biopsy, then Inject a Strand of the Common Cold Virus into the tumor.

Our smartest friend (Zachary)- was nice enough to study the injection and give us some information to share with everyone...

Marissa has GBM (glioblastoma multiforme), the most common primary brain tumor in adults. These tumors originate in glial cells (special cells in the brain that are there to provide nutrients and support to other brain cells). Marissa’s Neurosurgeon, Dr. Lang, has been working with brain tumor stem cells that have been isolated from the malignant gliomas (tumors on the glial cells, like Marissa has).

Dr. Lang’s group uses a drug that is currently in Phase I Clinical Trials (just getting started in human therapy)called Delta-24-RGD. This novel drug is tumor-selective (it has been genetically modified so that it only infects the tumor cells NOT normal human cells) and has oncolytic (cancer killing) properties. Delta-24-RGD is actually the adenovirus (a common virus that normally causes upper respiratory infections). The virus is injected into the tumor and works in several ways to try to get rid of the tumor: 1) It infects the tumor 2) Replicates inside the tumor and 3) Induces cell death of the brain tumor stem cells. This cell death is autophagic cell death [this is where the tumor cell starts to kill itself].

Marissa will be given another drug (at the same time as Delta-24-RGD) that will cause immunosuppression (cause her immune system to NOT work as well) so that he body will NOT try to kill off the adenovirus (they want it there to kill the cancer cells).

Pretty much, the virus will hijack the cancer cells, kill the cell, be released and infect another cancer cell to kill it. It could take several days for the virus to go through its life cycle.

 SO, We hope that will help some of you out.(Thanks Zach for studying that out)

Sometimes, we don't know what to specifically pray- but with information, we know more about the enemy we are battling. Pray that Marissa's body will accept this treatment they are performing. Steady the doctor's hands Lord, and guide them through this procedure. Give rest & peace to Marissa & her family as they face this adversary.

Marissa had to be at MD Anderson this morning around 5am Central time- Aunt Chris says she was her normal Joking self; this is encouraging to know she enters into this battle laughing, that reassures us that her faith is not wavering. 

Her surgery began around 10:30 Central time & is scheduled for up to 3 hours. If any further information comes my way I will pass along :)



  1. Thanks so much... this is a wonderful post! RHouse and I were able to spend a quick lunch break with Marissa last week on her day trip into NYC and she really is just so funny, with high spirits and a huge grin. I really could tell she is brave and ready to continue fighting!

  2. Thank you for this information. She will be in my prayers, please send her my love.

    Sandra Escalante

  3. Out here in the mountains of Virginia, I've been following Marissa's story. Thanks so much for this and future updates.