Sixteen-year-old Macey George of Byron is best described as a girl with a calm presence and a smile that can easily light up any room. A somewhat typical teen, she loves to play the piano and board games, especially “Ticket to Ride” and to spend time with her large family, including four brothers and two sisters. She loves puzzles and listening to country music, especially Carrie Underwood.
What’s not typical about this teen is that she is dealing with a rare and fast-growing tumor. The tumor, having a name that most people would have trouble pronouncing, has already affected her everyday life and has already created medical problems that are expected to continue the rest of her life.
George was diagnosed in February of 2015 with a rare brain tumor known as craniopharyngioma. The tumor is growing at the base of her brain, and has already shut down her pituitary gland and other important organs in the vicinity of the tumor.
On Feb. 25, the Rocky Mountain High School student underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Though it is benign, it has malignant tendencies that include attaching itself to everything around it, like her pituitary gland, optic nerves and hypothalamus. For George, that means she will need to take several lifesaving medications to replace the hormones that the pituitary gland made before it was affected by the tumor. And since the tumor also affects her hypothalamus gland, it will also affect body functions like mood, body temperature, hunger and energy.
The tumor has a high rate of re-growth and George will require very expensive MRIs the rest of her life.
A recent MRI test shows it is already re-growing since the surgery, and will no doubt require extensive medical treatment in the future.
Macey’s mother Rachel said there probably were some symptoms throughout Macey’s childhood, since the type of tumor she has is considered congenital. She said she noticed Macey stopped growing at an early age and her most recent symptoms included short-term memory loss. She said the tumor was already more than two centimeters when it was diagnosed.
“They think the tumor was there since birth,” explained Rachel. “They don’t know what causes it, but it is very rare and more common in children than in adults. It’s something they can operate on but that doesn’t come without a cost. Everything around it is affected.”
Friends and supporters have already set up a “GoFundMe” website and are planning a local fundraising event for her on Jan. 22 during the Rocky Mountain High School versus Riverside basketball game to be held in Cowley, with games starting at 4 and 5:30 p.m. for girls and 4 and 7 p.m. for boys.
The fundraising basketball game is entitled “Gray Matters,” since gray is the color for brain tumor awareness. T-shirts bearing the special Gray Matters logo will be sold at the game. All T-shirt proceeds will be donated to the George family to help support Macey in her battle. The fundraiser will also include a silent auction and other opportunities to make contributions to help the family pay for Macey’s medical expenses.
So far, supporters have raised more than $11,000 through the GoFundMe site. The site can be found at www.gofundme.com. Other fundraisers are planned, as Macey’s tumor is expected to grow, along with the cost of dealing with it.
By Patti Carpenter