November 1999 Updates on

Mary Beth


The following page contains updates regarding Mary Beth's progress for November of 1999.

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The Our Lady of the Pillar family is praying for 8th grade student, Mary Beth Ricken.  Mary Beth was diagnosed on November 9, 1999 with a brain tumor.  Surgery was performed that evening with a second operation a week later to remove a smaller tumor that was not evident in her initial MRI or surgery.  Mary Beth went home two days later on Thursday, November 18, 1999.  She handled the surgeries surprisingly well and her doctors said she is amazing, but then we all knew that!!


Mary Beth has been moved out of ICU.  However, she needs to rest and cannot have visitors at this time.  Gerry and Sheila, however, welcome visitors in the visitors' lounge.  They also extend sincere appreciation for the outpouring of notes, e-mail, visits, support and especially prayers.

Preliminary results are very encouraging.


Mary Beth has been up and walking today!  She is resting (as well as anyone can in a hospital) and regaining her strength.  She sends her thanks to everyone for their prayers.


Mary Beth will undergo a second surgery on Tuesday, November 16, around noon to remove a small part of tumor that was not seen in her initial MRI or during her first surgery. Our prayers are with you, Mary Beth.


The second surgery was very successful -- the remaining tumor was extracted.  Mary Beth will be moved out of ICU tomorrow.  She is alert, cracking jokes and giving orders!  She appreciates very much your prayers, e-mail and notes.


Mary Beth's brain surgeon Dr. Park simply said, "She is amazing!!"  Surgery two days ago and she is back home!!  Everyone at OLP signed a "WELCOME HOME" banner to greet her as she came back home this afternoon.

Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with you, Mary Beth.  Everyone, especially William, is glad to have you home from the hospital.


Mary Beth attended the All-School Thanksgiving Mass on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with her parents.  Everyone was glad to see her and see how well she looks.  Following is the editorial Mary Beth wrote on 11/23 for the student newspaper, as its editor. 

By Mary Beth Ricken

I would first off like to thank everyone at Pillar for everything you have done, not just for me, but for my family.  Your help has been completely overwhelming.  I can not thank you enough.  

Before my surgery, it was thought that I only had a bad sinus infection in the sinuses in the back of my head.  I was feeling nauseous in the morning and having awful headaches in the back of my head that just would not go away.  I missed a day of school thinking I just needed some antibiotics and I would be fine.  The next day I woke up and could not walk.  My mom took me to the doctor who tried to make me do all these weird things like touch my nose, then his finger (that seems to be all of my doctors' favorite game) and walk in a straight line.  I flunked all my tests.  

I was rushed to Children's Hospital where they gave me a cat-scan.  As soon as they started the machine, the operator pulled my mom out to tell her they had detected a growth, most likely a tumor, they said.  They then sent to have an MRI.  For the MRI, I had to lie perfectly still on a huge machine and they pushed me into a long narrow tunnel where the machine takes pictures of my brain in layers in a complicated process.  This took 1+ hours.  

When it was over, I was told I'd be having surgery to remove a tumor, a little bigger than a golf ball, from my cerebellum.  Mrs. Rieke taught me, the cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination (no wonder I was having trouble walking).  Recovery from that surgery was slow.  I did not get out of bed for almost 4 days.  My second surgery, exactly 1 week later, to remove a peanut m&m sized tumor was much easier.  I got out of bed just hours after surgery.

I can not go back to school until I have some more tests and take time healing at home (probably two weeks).  I will start my radiation and chemotherapy sometime in December.

Once again, I would like to thank you for your continued prayers and
support as I battle this cancerous tumor.

Mary Beth


Mary Beth came back to school on Monday.  She got her stitches out and is doing well.  Her Dad did say that she is hooked on Harry Potter books and would rather read those than her Social Studies.  Imagine that!!  She will be going to the DuBourg Math Contest on Saturday as part of the 8th grade team.  Her teammates were certainly glad to hear that news!!

Mary Beth and her parents met with the doctors at Children's Hospital today.  Mary Beth will be taking radiation treatments for 6 weeks followed by a year of chemotherapy.  The type of cancer that Mary Beth has is the most common brain tumor that occurs in children and it responds very well to the treatment program that the doctors have prescribed.


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