Marissa Christine Simmonds was born a healthy baby and continued to thrive her first year. She loved books, birds, dogs and especially other babies. When she was 15 months old, she started getting sick and initially her pediatrician thought it was a stomach virus. After several appointments with her pediatrician and a trip to the emergency room, she was sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital for a head CT scan, which showed an acute case of hydrocephalus and a four inch tumor in her brain. Four days later, she underwent a nine hour brain surgery and was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). She never was herself again.
In the following four months, Marissa was treated by arguably the best oncologist in the world for 0-3 year old children with brain tumors, Dr. Russ Geyer. She had an aggressive course of chemotherapy and several more surgeries to reduce her hydrocephalus and increase her chances of survival. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy was unsuccessful in stopping the growth of this very rare and aggressive tumor. When an MRI showed that the tumor was growing back, her team of medical professionals recommended that the most loving thing for Marissa would be to discontinue treatments and admit her to a pediatric hospice program. It was an impossible decision that nobody should have to make.
Since the moment Marissa died, she is missed every minute of every day, and every moment in between. In an effort to prevent other families from experiencing similar circumstances, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund raises money to fund research which will more effectively treat horrific brain cancers like Marissa’s. All donations raised go directly to the Olson Neuro-Oncology Lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which is funded by Seattle Children’s Hospital. Thank you for helping us cure brain cancer!