In 2013 when Mariah was nine years old, she had a headache that would not go away. After several visits to various doctors, Mariah went to the emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The emergency room doctor initially thought Mariah had a viral infection but ran a CT scan for confirmation. The CT scan showed a mass in Mariah’s brain which required a follow-up with a neurosurgeon. Mariah underwent brain surgery and had the tumor removed and the prognosis was positive, Mariah was expected to recover and unlikely to have any more issues.
Unfortunately, less than one year later Mariah had a regrowth of the tumor which required another surgery for removal. After the second surgery, the doctors learned that the tumor was extremely aggressive. The type of tumor is called ATRT and the chances of survival are about 50/50. The doctors explained that Mariah would be extremely sick and spend the majority of the next year in the hospital. Mariah was sick at the beginning of treatment but later in the year she was doing so well that the doctors were baffled at how well she tolerated her therapies and medications. Towards the end of Mariah‘s treatment, she had difficulty walking and increased weakness in her legs. An MRI revealed that she had extreme swelling building in her brain and it was affecting all of her motor movements. Mariah’s condition continued to worsen, she eventually lost all of her ability to move and was very close to not being able to breathe on her own. Around 2016 Mariah was using a machine to rattle her lungs so that she would not get pneumonia. She also needed help with all of her needs including going to the bathroom, getting dressed, and turning over in the night. Mariah was almost like a zombie.