Mariah Pearl | Her Fight is Our Fight
Let me introduce you to Mariah Pearl and her family. Mariah Pearl is the daughter of Jared and Mary Ritsema. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 5 months old. Here is their story.
Mariah had been throwing up for several weeks and her daycare provider kept saying that something wasn’t quite right. Her parents tried different formulas and were in communication with the pediatrician, but nothing seemed to work. After several visits to the pediatrician they were at a loss. Then one day Mariah was really lethargic and things just didn’t seem right. This prompted her parents to take her to the pediatrician once again and it was soon discovered that her heart rate was really low. They were told to take Mariah to the Emergency Room at the Children’s Hospital.
It was there that their world quickly unraveled. Mariah was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. It was discovered that she had a small tumor wrapped around her adrenal gland and several other spots within her body. They also found out that the constant puking was a result of a recalled formula. If it had not been for the bad formula Mariah’s cancer may have gone undetected.
The life that Jared and Mary once knew was quickly changing. With stage 4 neuroblastoma there was not time to waste. Treatment needed to start as soon as possible. Mariah underwent surgery to remove the tumor and that surgery was successful. It was also discovered that Mariah had fluid on her brain that was putting pressure on her optic nerve. She had to have another major surgery to remove the fluid from her brain in order to take pressure off of her optic nerve and hopefully prevent any long term damage to her vision.
Their life was now focused on advocating for their baby’s health and attending countless appointments. Mary had just changed positions within her company and Jared was an over the road truck driver. Their lives were no longer their own. Jared ended up being fired from his job because he could not leave home for 2 weeks at a time when his baby girl was so sick. Jared had to transition from being the financial provider to now being a full time caretaker. Mary had to take on the responsibility of being the sole financial provider because they desperately needed health insurance. These transitions were not easy and both Mary and Jared are still grieving the life that they once knew, but they are facing cancer head on as they advocate for sweet Mariah Pearl.
Their cancer journey has been long and extremely draining. Little Mariah Pearl has had countless surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, countless clinic and hospital admissions, and yet she still continues to smile her way through the storm. Jared and Mary have made huge sacrifices in order to provide the best care to their baby girl.
Mariah is now 15 months old and she’s resilient. She’s a fighter! She’s stolen the hearts of all the staff at the Children’s Hospital. She reminds us all to smile in the midst of the storm. She gives us hope that there will be brighter days ahead.
She still faces many challenges. Soon she will start radiation and then immunotherapy. Her mom continues to work so that Mariah can get the best health care. Her dad continues to care for Mariah as he’s taken on the role of the stay at home parent. Together they continue to advocate, not only Mariah but for all children fighting childhood cancer.
Please help Mariah by donating and advocating for her health by purchasing a Her Fight is Our Fight tee, or by donating towards her GoFundMe campaign.
100% of profits go to Mariah and her family!