Addison Misch is a determined competitor on the cross country trail, and her pace hasn’t slowed, even after surgery to remove a tennis ball-sized tumor from her brain.
The 12-year-old from Markle, Ind., was vacationing with her family last summer when her mother found her standing and slowly spinning in circles, shaking her arms. Addison told her mom later that she could hear her but couldn’t respond.
An MRI revealed a large tumor, and doctors in Fort Wayne connected the Misch family with Jodi Smith, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Dr. Smith met Addison on Friday and her surgery was scheduled for that Monday.
“It was kind of dramatic,” Addison remembers. “Straight after my mom found me, they found the tumor, and straight after that, I was in surgery at Riley.”
Two dozen of Addison’s family and friends waited at Riley during the all-day surgery. Parents Mark and Jamie Misch credit an experienced nurse for convincing them to get a room at the in-hospital Ronald McDonald House.
“She took care of us so that we could help care for Addison,” Jamie says.
Addison doesn’t remember much from the days after surgery (other than eating lots of JELL-O and playing Wii in her room) but she found a friend in Dr. Smith.
“Dr. Smith is a really wonderful lady, and she talks to me personally at all of my check-ups,” Addison says. Dr. Smith was equally impressed with her young patient. “Addison was a terrific and delightful patient with a huge, very rare and highly vascular tumor. She recovered very quickly from her surgery, despite the fact that the surgery lasted about eight to 10 hours,” Smith recalls.
Addison only missed three days of 6th grade after surgery, and she even ran the last four meets of the cross country season. This fall, she and a team of 60 supporters laced up their running shoes to take part of the Run for Riley in Fort Wayne. She is happy to give back to Riley now that her ordeal is in the past and her brain is tumor-free.
“Everyone just treats me like a normal kid,” she says.