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The “Significance of One” is about local community coming together to help others in times of need. This is one of those times of need within the community.
On January 5th, twelve year old Marhkis McDermott was diagnosed with a large germ cell tumor in his brain located next to his brain stem. It was causing him to have double vision, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Marhkis had brain surgery on January 9th to biopsy the tumor and drain some of the fluid that was causing the pressure and symptoms. Marhkis is feeling so much better and relieved of his headaches and nausea since they have removed some of the fluid. The final pathology report will be available soon, which will provide more information about his tumor and the exact plan of treatment. However, Marhkis’s biopsy is already showing 3 different types of germ cells that will require chemo, another brain surgery, and radiation. Marhkis has a very long road of treatment and recovery ahead of him.
Thank you again everyone for you support at Jam Fest for Cancer where we raised $6,900 for Marhkis’ fight against brain cancer!
Here is an update on Marhkis; however, I want to give Marhkis a high five first! Through this fight with brain cancer he has managed to keep between a 3.5 and 3.9 GPA and received a Spirit of The Pack Award at school! Way to go Marhkis!!!
Here are the prayer requests. Marhkis has a lot of medical tests this week and next. He will be admitted on June 6th for the more intense chemo and stem cell transplant. The stay in the hospital could be about two and a half weeks and will all depend on how his body reacts to the treatments. We need to pray for healing, strength, continued encouragement from others, little to no side effects, peace, for Markhis to stay healthy and away from germs, and that he will rest comfortably during this stay through his treatments. I have no doubt that Marhkis will go in with boxing gloves up and the attitude that will knock this cancer out! 💜
As I get more updates through testing and while he is in the hospital I will post them. God Bless all of you and thank you for your encouragement and prayers for Marhkis and his family!
Amy and Marhkis were hoping they would get the go ahead to start chemo back up this week. However, they got the thumbs down. His incision is not healing properly on one side. Marhkis will have to have surgery on Thursday where they will have to open up the incision, clean it out really well and then re-suture. As Marhkis said “at least this won’t take 17 hours.”
Please be praying for Thursday. We also need prayers that this will heal up in the next three weeks so that he can start chemo back up again. Oncology updated them on his labs and although there is no change in his tumor size, his AFP is up. That's not what we were wanting to hear. It's not high in comparison to where it was but it is more than double what it was right after surgery The AFP is the tumor marker in the blood they look at to detect the aggression or de-gression progress of the Yoke Sak tumor.
The good news is that Marhkis and Amy both have huge faith and as Amy stated “We will just roll with the punches.” Friends, let’s roll with the punches with them!
Keep sending those prayers to God for not just continued strength but guidance as well. Please consider making a donation to reserve a spot at the Jam Fest for Brain Cancer on May 19th. Come out and support Marhkis in this battle. Spots must be reserved ahead of time by going to clicking here and following the directions.
The pathology reports came back and confirmed what the neuro surgeon originally thought. The teratoma is still there along with the yoke sac tumor. The teratoma is an issue because it is a very fast growing tumor. It is the tumor the neurosurgeon was really hoping to knock out with surgery. But it’s okay, because God’s hand is in all of this, and it will continue to be every step of the way!
Marhkis’ neuro and pathology team met and discussed the possibility of a couple of different plans. At this time, as far as Amy knows, the plan is to resume with the current regular chemo (A B cycle) as planned and then Rounds 4, 5 and 6 will be the aggressive chemo with stem cell transplants. This is the chemo that will have to be done inpatient. In between the chemo cycles they will do MRI’s to keep looking at the tumor size and keep watching the tumor markers. They want the yoke yac markers at 2 or under. Currently he is at 17. During the MRI checks the team will determine if and when the second surgery will be or if there is any other option available for treatment. If Marhkis doesn't qualify for another option then he will have to get a second surgery. The potential other options could be a couple different types of radiation. Please continue to pray for all of this since it is really too early to have the conversation about these options right now.
Please pray for Marhkis to stay healthy as his immune system is run down. Pray for his incision to heal as well. We need him to be healthy and healing so that he can start the next rounds of chemo on time. Please pray not just for the tumors to slow down in growth but pray for God to heal them completely.
Continue to pray for Marhkis - his strength, his pain tolerance, his physical health and his mental and spiritual health. I ask for you to pray for Amy’s physical, spiritual and mental health as well. Please pray for her other kiddos; especially her youngest two as mom not being home as often is always an adjustment. Please pray for the family and friends who have pulled together to be an army that cares for Amy and her family! Especially for those who are helping in with child care and running errands. Last, but not least, pray for God to continue to be glorified in all of this and for Amy and Marhkis to continue to be the amazing testimony to their faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ.
Keep sharing the fundraiser. Thanks for being MarhkisStrong! God Bless!
Marhkis was able to sit up in a chair for a little bit today and drink a little bit of a smoothie. PT came in to try and help him take a few steps. Today he was able to get his eyes opened a lot more (hence this awesome picture).
All in all, he is doing well and pain is being kept under control. Please continue to pray for his recovery and rest. Also, pray for his pain management as he progresses to being awake more and having to work more with the therapists.
Please be praying for the pathology results. Before the neurosurgeons and the oncology team can make a decision of the next plan of action they will need the pathology results back which they are hoping for Tuesday or Wednesday. Once they are back, the oncology team and neuro team will decide whether the next step is to go ahead and do a second surgery now and then proceed with chemo, or do a couple more rounds of chemo and then do the second surgery. It all depends on what types of germ cell tumors were recovered and could possibly still be remaining. If there is ANY teratoma at all, they have to go back in for a second surgery. But both teams will have to come to a decision as to when.
Thanks everyone for your continued prayers! Please continue to share this donation page.
Alright prayer warriors! I have an update from Amy, but first I just want to say that our God is so good!
Ok we are in the ICU... he is not being kept sedated. He had an AMAZING anesthesiologist that kept him at the minimal sedation during surgery so he was able to wake up less than 3minutes after they took him off. They were able to remove his breathing tube and he was talking to the Dr and moving both arms equally. His surgeon said she was amazed at how well he did. Way better than expected!
Once they got him in the ICU and he opened his eyes, the first thing he said to his nurse was "hey, I know you...I had you before".... SAME ICU nurse as last time!!!! How awesome is that??!!! She was so excited to have him back and that he remembered her!!!
The total surgery/procedure time was was 17 1/2 hours. They were hoping to remove all of the tumor. However because of how attached to literally everything surrounding it it was, they were only safely able to remove about 80% of it. The area of greatest concern is where it's attached closest to where it affects his vision and could cause permanent sight loss. With that being said, the team decided to close him up and give his body a break and wait for pathology to come back so they can determine what all types of the tumor are still potentially remaining. The neuro team will meet with the oncology team and determine whether the rest of the 20% can be treated with chemo or is a second surgery required.
For now, he will be resting very still and comfortable at least until Monday. The photo to the right was right when Amy came into the ICU... still smiling... as best he could after being sedating for 17 1/2 hours :) His incision is on the top back left side of his head and they left a drain in just to make sure they keep the fluid down and to help his shunt from getting clogged.
Marhkis update for everyone! Amy and Marhkis met with his team of doctors on Friday. The cancer activity inside the tumor is responding to treatment but the actual Teratoma Cancer Tumor is not responding itself and has actually grown some. The Neuro team has decided that due to the growth it is time to go in and remove as much of the tumor as possible. This 6-8 hours surgery will be this Thursday at Children’s. The plan following surgery is rehab and healing, then do the 3rd cycle of the current type of chemo treatment. A few weeks after that cycle will switch to the the more aggressive chemo which will also be a total of 3 cycles plus stem cell transplants. Tuesday they will meet with his neuro team and go through all the pre-op testing.
Marhkis was supposed to take a trip before all of this happened in January. Amy called me last night as they were on the road to New York hence the photos you see below. Marhkis wanted to do something really fun with his mom before taking on next week. Marhkis and Amy were blessed with help from family and friends to make this trip for Marhkis a possibility and they are so appreciative of all the blessings they have received. Marhkis has a large list for the next three days: Empire State Building, 911 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Time Square, Brooklyn Bridge, and possibly the Godzilla show!
There is a lot to be praying for and I will have another update Tuesday after the Neuro meeting. I will post more prayer requests as well.
1. Pray for calm and peaceful hearts for Amy and Marhkis and their family.
2. Pray for the medical staff that have been and will be involved in his continued care and treatment plan.
3. Pray for his ASP numbers. The doctors are running them on Tuesday and are hoping to see a decrease in them. We are praying they will be 20 or less!
4. Pray for perseverance and endurance after surgery and a quick recovery.
5. Pray for the surgeons. Due to the size and the place of the tumor they don’t know how much they will be able to take. There is a possibility that there may be a 2nd brain surgery in the future.
6. Pray for Amy as she’s been battling a bad cold/sinus thing. She’s running around like crazy and her body could use a little rest, I’m sure!
7. Pray for Marhkis’ siblings as they process through all of this and adjust to different schedules.
Please continue to share the fundraiser. After Thursday life is going to get a little more complicated because of the hospital stay, rehabilitation and healing afterward, finishing the current treatment plan and starting with the more aggressive one, which will require Marhkis to be in-patient for a lengthy amount of time.
Amy and Marhkis are so very thankful for each and everyone of you! I have so many stories about so many of you who have shown up and blessed then in different ways at different times and it’s all God, zero coincidence! Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!
Photos below is Marhkis and Amy hitting the streets of New York!
I know the picture is hard to see but this my friends is the best and most miraculous downward slope your eyes will see!
This is God at work here. This is the product of the trust, faith, strength, perseverance and positivity that God has instilled in Marhkis and Amy, as well as the wisdom and knowledge God has given to his team of doctors that seek to make sure this battle is won! This is Marhkis’ AFP (the blood marker for his yolk sac part of the tumor) it went from 7900 to 824! They expected it to be around 1650 but he blew that number out of the water!
May I hear some Praise Jesus?!?!
Michael and I went up to sit with Amy for a bit tonight and to get Marhkis his Chipotle and spicy food fix. :) We were able to deliver a super awesome gift basket from Amy’s amazing Grace Group that I’m sure put a smile on Marhkis’ face as well.
We were able to get the run down on the road ahead for Marhkis. He will be at the hospital through this weekend for this 2nd cycle of chemo. There is still fluid showing up on the MRI but the shunt is keeping the levels lower than they were before. Marhkis will go back next week for an injection to help his body recover some from this 2nd cycle of chemo. The next steps will be in a couple of weeks to image and start to plan out surgery. After surgery his next cycles of chemo will be much stronger and each round will follow with stem cell transplants. This stage of the treatment plan will most likely keep him in the hospital for up to 4 weeks. His immune system will be extremely low at that point so they will keep him under strict isolation. Future plans will also include radiation of the brain and spine once the chemo cycles are completed.
I asked Amy how Marhkis was doing digesting all this information and I’m telling you this boy is a David fighting Goliath! No fear, all faith! Ready to keep fighting the fight! He’s even googled his type of tumors and has asked his oncologist many questions! Smart young man! Please continue to pray for the road ahead and most importantly that they will continue to take all of this one day at a time. Please continue to share the fundraiser, as there is a very long road yet ahead. Let’s continue to come alongside Marhkis, Amy and their entire family and help carry any burdens that we can, so they can stay focused on the finish line. Thank you to all who have donated, prayed, shared and given time, money, food, gift cards, prayers and more!
Amy wants everyone to know how humbly thankful she is for your love and prayers!
Marhkis had his surgery to put in the shunt. He couldn't eat or drink, so it's been a long day for him. He’s just getting settled back into his room. Please say a prayer –his head and his stomach aren’t feeling so great right now. We love you Marhkis! You are such a brave and strong young man!
Marhkis was getting his fluids today and waiting for the chemo to come up from the pharmacy so they could get started and MRI called up and said they had an opening to do his MRI for a fluid check so we went ahead and did it so we wouldn't have to do it tomorrow or Friday.... GOOD THING because the MRI showed his ventricles had enlarged significantly and now he will have surgery in the morning for a shunt to drain the fluid. Chemo will be in hold until after his head heals from surgery in about a week. God is always on time! At THAT moment there was an opening for an MRI that showed the doctors what needed to be seen. If it were after chemo had started, he would have had to wait until after chemo and his counts would have been much lower and the chances of negative side effects and infection would have been MUCH higher!! Praise God... we continue to be SO thankful!!!
SoO will keep everyone updated through surgery tomorrow.
Marhkis just got out of surgery and is hooked up for the stem cell collection. They had to put a line in one of the main arteries to do stem cell collection. He's getting a small blood transfusion now because his red blood cell counts are a little lower than they would like, but it will be totally fine! The harvesting will take like 6hrs and then it takes about 3hrs to get the results back. He is watching a movie and waiting for his Turkey burger!
Keep those prayers going!
Happy 13th Birthday to Marhkis!!! Started his morning with Bob Evans and then time spent with close friends and family tonight. We need your prayers as tomorrow morning at 5:45am he is being admitted for Stem Cell Harvesting. Praise God, his lab numbers were finally high enough today that they could make the decision to start the stem cell therapy tomorrow. The goal is to do two days of stem cell therapy and then Monday he will start with his second cycle of chemo. So, another long stay ahead. Let’s pull our Marhkis strong prayers together for these next couple of week ahead!
Marhkis has been home resting and spending time with his family. Unfortunately, his labs were not good enough yesterday, so he will be back in the hospital for labs on Monday. If the numbers look better then he will be admitted on Tuesday to begin the stem cell harvesting.
A more detailed update will be posted soon!
On the left is Marhkis and Amy in their Love Your Melon beanies!
Second update: He's heading home!! As long as his labs are good, he won't be back until Monday.
Marhkis may get to come home yet this afternoon! He will have to go back tomorrow and Friday for blood work and if numbers look good he will get to stay home until Monday. Then they will readmit and begin stem cell transplants for 6 days and his next cycle of chemo starts in 9 days. Please continue to pray! Also please keep sharing this page!
Below is Marhkis and mom with #MARHKISSTRONG bracelets!
Chipotle with big brother last week
Mom had Marhkis exercising!
Oncologist just left. The MRI shows activity of the tumor responding to the chemo. This is good! However, there is increased swelling now, so they just want to keep an eye on that. One of his ventricles is slightly larger, also. But the surrounding fluid that was in the brain is down, so they aren't talking shunt anymore. For the time being they will continue treatments and steroids. He will remain on the 12th floor. Please, please continue to share the donation link and please keep praying and passing on the prayer request. Love you all!!!
Amy is holding up well. She told us how she and Marhkis are using this for God’s glory not in just how they view this trial, but in how they share why God allowed Marhkis out of all her kiddos to be the one to go through this fight. It is just a true testimony of their trust in God!
Marhkis is just finishing up this first cycle of chemo. He has five more cycles to go and each cycle contains more than one type of chemo. Marhkis has been very tired from going through this first cycle, but his spirit is remaining strong. He’s cooperating with OT and PT even when they make him wake up. :)
The neuro surgeon told Amy today that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The MRI results from last night show that the fluid is no longer just in the ventricles of his brain but now fluid is also outside of the ventricles. This is a huge need of prayer since right now if his headaches start coming back again, or they see any sort of decline, then they will have to put a shunt in to drain fluid. Another area of prayer is that his double vision has gotten worse and the dizziness when he walks has gotten worse. Marhkis enjoys playing games on his computer, but right now it’s very difficult for him to do so. It is also making it difficult for him to read.
All in all though, he and Amy are remaining strong mentally, and they appreciate all the prayers and contributions for their family. Today while I was there one of Marhkis’ teachers came up and he had such great things to say about Marhkis! It actually brought tears to my eyes as he started to choke up a bit when talking about Marhkis.
Please continue to share this page and the prayer requests we have included in the updates!
Love and huge thankfulness to all!
Speed walking the halls!
After chemo pic
During a chemo treatment. All was good since Marhkis had his laptop!
After shower selfie!
2nd update: Marhkis had his first round chemo yesterday and is having his 2nd treatment tonight at 8pm. We need continued prayers as the oncologist let Amy know that the “yolk sac germ cell” markers were around 2000 last week, (which was a high number) they are now 7000 and have divided. The oncologist says that it is growing rapidly! He said the upside is that the divided cells and the germinoma are the first to respond to chemo.
The doctors expect him to be in the hospital at the least through next week. Praying for Marhkis and his strength and that his next labs show a decrease in numbers! Amy (mom) is remaining hopeful, but needs continued prayers as well...Praying she can get some rest since the nerves and being in the hospital is very difficult. Thank you to everyone who has been so gracious to keep praying, reaching out to the family in any way and your love and generosity. You are all AMAZING and is a big part of what keeps them going!
Marhkis' first round of Chemo went well. He did have a really bad headache earlier yesterday and got sick a couple times but before they started chemo he started feeling MUCH better. After this he ate and seemed back to normal.
So far he is still doing really well and eating like a linebacker!! They still have him on steroids. They did say he will remain here until at least through the end of next week because they want to keep monitoring his brain fluid since his last scan showed the tumor had increased. So just to be on the safe side they want to keep him and do another MRI to see if he will need a shunt or if it's stable enough for him to come home. He is still in good spirits and continues to keep that smile of his. We have so much to be grateful for!
Marhkis is waiting to get his port installed and spinal tap. It was supposed to be today but a few emergency cases came in so he got bumped and it may still be later today but if not then tomorrow for sure. The chemo will start the same day, so tonight or tomorrow. He is scheduled for 6 cycles of chemo with surgery to try to remove the tumor after the 2nd or 3rd treatment, depending on shrinkage. After removal, he may also need stem cell treatment as well as the remainder of his chemo treatments Once those are done, he will need 6 weeks of radiation which will be in Cincinnati.
His spirits are still good and positive. Someone bought him a blue tooth speaker so he has been listening to music in his room jammin' out. Maybe he can teach the doctors and nurses some of his awesome dance moves!
Prayers are always welcome and deeply appreciated!
Marhkis’s final pathology report came back today and it is showing that Marhkis actually has 4 type of germ cells within his tumor, this is called a “mixed germ cell tumor." Germ cell brain tumors are very rare accounting for less than 5% in all brain tumors in children. One type of germ cell showing is called a “yolk sac tumor” which is one or the rarest, hardest to treat and making Marhkis’s case high risk.
Marhkis’s scan showed today that his ventricles are showing to be larger than after they had drained the fluid and shrunk them last Wednesday and they will be starting chemo very soon to try and shrink the tumor to fix that problem fast. Tomorrow, Marhkis will be moved to the 12th floor for a while where he will not be allowed to have ANY visitors other than 4 listed people until further notice due to flu season.
Marhkis will be having several procedures this week including another surgery to put a port in, a bone marrow drawal (as they will be most likely using his very own bone marrow for his transplant), and a spinal tap. Marhkis will be starting chemo on Friday or Monday at the latest and another brain surgery to remove some of the tumor after chemo.
PLEASE continue to keep Marhkis, his mom Amy, and the rest of his family in your prayers. They will need it more than ever to get through what he is about to endure!
Marhkis has been so appreciative of every call, text, and cards from his classmates and friends, and wants you to know how much it has lifted his spirits and put a smile on his face the past week. So, thank you and keep them coming!!
Also please consider making a donation below, if you have not already, since Marhkis will be in the hospital for at least several more weeks (if not longer) and Amy will be right there with him.
want to help?
If you and your family feel led to help Marhkis and his family in some way, the Significance of One is a non-profit (501c3) and 100% of donations will go to Marhkis and his family, unlike GO FUND ME which takes a large percentage. Please consider making a donation of any amount and share this page on social media. Everything helps. We will continue to update the community on Marhkis as we are updated. Lastly, please be praying for Marhkis, his family, and the medical staff involved in his care.
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