MOUNT VERNON — Birthdays and Christmases are always two big days each year in the lives of children. Those two days should be quite memorable this year for Marley Adams, who recently wasn’t sure she would be home to celebrate them this year.
A recent trip to Nationwide Children’s Hospital led to the discovery of fluid on Marley’s brain as well as a brain tumor, and emergency surgery followed shortly thereafter. Recovery is now in process, and Marley is home to celebrate with her family.
No major health problems had previously been noticed, but Marley had occasionally complained of having a headache. The first signs of any real problem came around mid-November when Marley’s fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Frackman, noticed that Marley was not very responsive in class. She alerted the school nurse who contacted Marley’s mother, Ruth Ann, stating she thought Marley was showing signs of seizure activity.
A call was made to the family doctor who was unable to see Marley immediately. She was then taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital after being found asleep on the floor in a hallway in the middle of the night. A CAT scan showed that Marley had fluid on her brain with the possibility of a tumor present.
“They moved her to the critical side of the ER, called the neurosurgeon, and everything took off from there,” said Ruth Ann. Although Marley admits being a little scared at this point, she claimed she felt “awesome.”
“She wasn’t really responding a lot to the doctors and nurses. She wasn’t talking to them much,” said Ruth Ann. Marley did know a lot of answers to questions she was being asked but was unaware of what month it was, saying she thought it was September. She also could not recall just having celebrated Thanksgiving.
The doctor then informed the family that Marley’s condition is known as hydrocephalus, also called water on the brain. Surgery followed less than 24 hours later where a bypass procedure took place, creating a new passage to allow the fluid to drain.
“It was very intimidating. You don’t know what to think. Less than three hours had gone by and now she has a brain tumor. It was very hard to take in,” said Ruth Ann.
Marley stayed at the hospital for three days and will now see a neurosurgeon on a regular basis for six months. Visits to oncologists are also scheduled with the next visit scheduled Thursday, Dec. 27.
“She’s like Marley times 10 now,” said Ruth Ann after seeing Marley’s recovery. “They brought me back a whole new kid. She was singing the night before they released her. It was quite an improvement.”
Hydrocephalus strikes about one in every 500 people and has a survival rate of only about 40 percent because many cases go undiagnosed. Doctors believe that Marley could have carried the tumor since she was a baby, as they believe the water had been on her brain so long that the skull had thinned in spots.
Upon returning to school on Dec. 2, just three days before her 10th birthday, Marley was pleased to discover her classmates at East Elementary School were showing their support for her in wearing stocking caps. Marley had been wearing a stocking cap since her surgery, having to have her head shaved. “They’ve been helping me and are really nice to me,” said Marley of her classmates.
In the meantime, more information is being sought from oncologists who are unsure if radiation or chemotherapy may be necessary. “We’re told that children her age are rather receptive to chemo and radiation. If it comes to that, then that’s what we’ll have to do,” said Ruth Ann.
Many words of praise for those at East Elementary were heard following Marley’s surgery. “Ms. Frackman was just awesome. I know she was so concerned,” said Ruth Ann. “All of East school, and especially Mrs. Kilkenny, have just been very supportive in making her feel comfortable and making sure she’s OK.”
And though she was home in time for her birthday and for Christmas, Marley wanted to convey one message to all her friends at East Elementary School — “A great big thank you.”
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