August 2000 Updates on

Mary Beth


The following page contains updates regarding Mary Beth's progress for August of 2000.

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I've previously discussed the roller coaster we are on and this week we encountered the lowest valley yet, after a very high peak last week. The week at H.I.S. K.I.D.S. Camp last week was clearly one of the best and most rewarding weeks Mary Beth, Barbie, and Heidi have ever experienced. They created life long friends with kids their own age that have been similarly affected by cancer. They shared their experiences, learned a lot about themselves, and laughed and cried together during the week. The three of them even appeared on the nightly news on three different local stations. When we picked them up on Friday, they didn't want to leave. Then we had a great weekend with Amanda Millet, Barbie's best friend from Overland Park, KS. Saturday was full of shopping for all the girls. Since MB loves roller coasters but can't ride them now, we saw "Thrill Ride" at the Omnimax theater on Sunday and enjoyed it. On Monday, Mary Beth had an MRI and we fully anticipated the one small "fleck" that appeared on her previous scan to be gone.

On Tuesday, her medical team informed us that her small "fleck" had grown and two additional lesions appeared on her lower spine. It appears that the cancer is not responding to at least her latest treatment of chemotherapy. Accordingly, her overall plan was changed. She was given a strong treatment of cytoxin (the drug she received before her last treatment) on Tuesday. During the next ten days, she will undergo a harvesting of her stem cells, the cells that create all blood cells. On Monday, August 21st, she will have another MRI. If there is shrinkage of the cancer cells, she will be scheduled for very intense chemotherapy followed by stem cell rescue. The key to this plan is that the chemotherapy treatment she received this week shrinks the cancer that appeared on her latest MRI. Please pray with us that this treatment is working so she may receive the intense treatments followed by the stem cell transplant. We ask you to reach out to others that you know and have Mary Beth added to prayer lists of all congregations of all faiths to ask God's blessing for the treatment to work and for positive MRI results on the 21st. Many of you have asked what you can do. The answer is to please pray and send MB a card letting her know. Her address is Mary Beth Ricken, 43 Chaminade Drive, St Louis, MO 63141.

Thank you and God bless you,

(E-mail from Sara Clark)

As many of you all know, Mary Beth Ricken, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Pillar and a freshman at St. Joseph's Academy was diagnosed with a brain tumor last fall. She has been receiving treatments all year. After an MRI was done in the beginning of August, it was discovered that Mary Beth had 2 new spots of cancer on her spine. She will be undergoing a stem-cell transplant later in the year. This is a treatment that requires a long time in the hospital and a long time in isolation. She will need lots of prayers through this time. On Monday, August 21 at 7 pm, she will get another MRI. We are going to gather as a community while she is getting the MRI to pray for her healing.

On August 21 at 6:45 pm, we will meet at Our Lady of the Pillar church (401 S. Lindbergh) to pray the rosary for Mary Beth's healing. If you can not make it or live out of town, please try to gather with faithful believers to pray a rosary for Mary Beth at this time. Please pass the word to any who would be interested. For more information, call Mary Fava at 432-2197.

There will be baskets out at church that evening to collect cards, photos, letters, words of encouragement for Mary Beth.

Sara Clark
Youth Minister, Our Lady of the Pillar


Since we received the challenging news two weeks ago, Mary Beth has been very busy. She spent the better part of her time going out to eat, seeing movies, shopping, getting a manicure, hanging out, etc. with her friends, Christine, Caroline, Sarah, Nellie, and Liz. I even took her shopping one day (not one of my hobbies) and we acquired several comedies on DVD for continued laughter in our house. She also has seen a lot of visitors at home. She had her surgery on Friday to place her pheresis catheter in her leg. She was immobile for the weekend and began the process of donating her stem cells on Monday morning. She needed to donate 2.5 million cells and we were informed that this may take up to four days to accomplish. After spending the day in the hospital, she came home and awaited the news regarding her count. We were informed late Monday night that she had donated 7.2 million cells, so she was finished with the process. Yesterday, she spent time getting her catheter extracted and getting other tests administered. She also spent the majority of today in the hospital for more tests on her major organs. She told me that all systems were go and that she was running on all eight cylinders, and feels good, especially now that she is free to walk again.

A very exciting event took place late last night. At 9:00 p.m., Mary Beth was channel surfing and landed on the Travel Channel, which we never watch. There was a special airing that highlighted the Shrine of Padre Pio in Italy. Sheila and I watched the show with her and discussed how fascinating he was. Padre Pio was born in 1887, lived for 50 years of his life with the stigmata, bearing the wounds of Christ in his hands, feet, and side, dedicated his life to God, and died in 1968 with the wounds healing shortly prior to his death. The special discussed the miracles surrounding Padre Pio. After watching this show, Mary Beth went to bed at about 10:15 p.m..

At 10:30 p.m., our good friend Tony Sansone called and asked if he could bring a visiting priest from Rome by to bless MB. We accepted the invitation and were visited in the early morning hours by the priest, Tony, his daughters Carrie and Debi, and his sister and niece, Debi and Tina Schlapprizzi. Father made it clear that he did not want to awaken Mary Beth, so we entered Mary Beth's room and began praying quietly. Mary Beth woke up and joined us in prayer. Father blessed Mary Beth and our entire family by touching us with a glove worn by Padre Pio, whom he had studied under in Italy. He spoke with Mary Beth briefly and she thanked him with her delightful smile. We wish to express heartfelt thanks to the Sansone family. It was a very powerful moment for all of us, but especially Mary Beth - imagine watching a television show about Padre Pio, going to sleep, and waking up to be blessed by a Vatican priest understudy of Padre Pio with one of the very gloves that covered his wounds.

We want to thank each and everyone of you for the blessings you have bestowed on all of us with your loving support, kind thoughts and gestures, and especially for your outpouring of prayers for Mary Beth and our family. We continue to hear from your friends whom we have not met about how they are praying for MB. We are reminded each day how very blessed we are to have great friends and family like you.

Thank you and God bless you, 


Other than the Operation Liftoff trip in June, Mary Beth has been unable to travel since last fall. So this weekend, when William and I traveled to Garden Plain, Kansas to visit my parents, she sought permission to travel from the clinic and was granted approval. It was the first trip she made to Grandma and Grandpa’s house since August of 1999. We had a wonderful weekend and attended a mass for Mary Beth on Saturday night at St. Anthony’s parish in GP (a simultaneous rosary will be said there tonight as well). She visited with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and surprised everyone with her presence. She amazed me with her stamina of the 14 hour round trip trek and was more refreshed than I was. At the halfway point yesterday, we even stopped at the Kansas City Outlet mall, but found no bargains.

She spent the entire day today at St. Joseph’s Academy for her freshman orientation and insisted that she was staying until 6:00 p.m. when mass concluded. We will be traveling directly to her MRI and appreciate all your thoughts and prayers while she spends her three hours in the machine.

Thank you for the outpouring of love that we continue to experience.

Thank you and God bless you,



Our collective prayers are being answered. Thank you! We just returned from the hospital and were informed that the cancer is responding to the chemotherapy. The three cancerous lesions on Mary Beth’s lower spine are still present but have not grown in the past three weeks. She now has the ability to receive the high dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue and will begin this process next week. This process consists of seven days of intense chemotherapy treatments, followed by a day of rest, then the stem cell transfusion. On the day of rest, the chemotherapy drugs will have completely destroyed her bone marrow and her ability to produce blood cells. Her stem cells will then begin the process of rebuilding her blood system. During this process, Mary Beth will be in an isolation room at the hospital and will be isolated for four to six weeks. The normal time frame for this process is typically five weeks. We will discuss this in detail tomorrow with her oncologists and will be more versed to field questions and disseminate additional information after our session.

We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone for your thoughts and prayers for Mary Beth and our family.

Thank you and God bless you,


We are in the process of sending Mary Beth's godmother, Joan Teckman, to eternal happiness today. Joan is Sheila's youngest sister and fought a life long battle with Cystic Fibrosis. Despite her illness, she became a world class nurse, married a wonderful person, Dr. Jeff Teckman, and became the proudest mother we know when Jeff and Joan returned in June from the Ukraine with Nathaniel. These are among a few of the amazing things she accomplished in her 39 years, which also included being in charge of pediatric hospice for Children's Hospital and surviving two double lung transplants and a kidney transplant. She is truly a hero to all who had the opportunity to meet her. This was obvious last night with the glorious show of support at the funeral home. We will all miss her dearly but we know she is with her sister Mary Beth Kriegshauser and together they are looking over all of us and rallying for Mary Beth's full recovery. A memorial has been established at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 200 South Hanley Road, Suite 620, St Louis, MO 63105

Mary Beth has been busy attending school and social functions, meeting new friends, and having fun at her new school, St Joseph's Academy. She will be checking in to the Bone Marrow Transplant unit tomorrow (Wednesday) for her high dose chemotherapy treatment with an autologous stem cell transplant. Her schedule is very rigorous and will include seven consecutive daily doses of intense chemotherapy drugs. Each daily dose is equivalent to four times the strength of her treatments she has received every three weeks. On the 8th day, she will rest and allow the chemo drugs to finish the damage to her blood system. Then her stem cell transplant will occur on Friday, September 8th. This will begin the process of rebuilding her blood system. When her counts recover to acceptable levels, she will be released from the unit to come home. The estimated time for her isolation in the BMT unit is 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, the number of visitors is limited to four per day, including Sheila and me. She will be equipped with her cell phone and laptop to keep in contact with the outside world. As always, the thing she is most bothered by is the inability to attend school. She is determined to stay on top of her education to the extent physically possible and wants to get into her St Joe uniform as soon as possible.

Thank you all for your support during these challenging times. We all smile a lot because of what each and every one of you do.

God bless you all,


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