The Health of a child- A Night for Meghan “Maggie” Russo

Everyone deserves happiness. Sometimes bringing it to others brings it back to you.

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  A NIGHT FOR MEGHAN “Maggie” RUSSO  October 25th 2010 @ 7:30pm Directors Guild of America Theater 110 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 (212) 258-0890

AFTER PARTY TO FOLLOW @ 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church 7 West 55th St New York, NY 10019 (212)247-0490


Meghan Elizabeth Russo (Maggie) came into the world on January 10, 2008, a happy and healthy baby girl born to proud parents Mike and Mary Beth, a NYC firefighter and a teacher turned stay at home mom. Her best friend and hero is her big brother Michael, 13 months her senior, and she is the proud big sister of her baby sister, Mary Kate. Meghan is a bubbly, vivacious bundle of energy and Mommy and Daddy’s beautiful Princess.
In late October 2009, Meghan’s parents noticed that her left eye was reflecting strangely in the light.

During a trip to the pediatrician’s office, Mike and Mary Beth asked the doctor to examine her eye. Moments later, her doctor was setting up an emergency trip to the ophthalmologist’s office. Later that evening, Meghan was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer.

Six days later, Meghan and her parents went to see Dr. David Abramson at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. After an examination under anesthesia, Dr. Abramson confirmed that she had retinoblastoma. He said that the tumor was covering over 60% of her eye, that the retina was severed and she had no vision, and that her safest option was an enucleation (removal of the eye). Dr. Abramson did offer an alternative treatment called chemo-reduction, but he felt that it was not in Meghan’s best interest. With the knowledge that Meghan would never regain sight in her left eye, and the fear that the cancer could spread toward her other eye, her nervous system or her brain, Meghan’s parents agreed to the surgery.
On Monday, November 9, 2009, Meghan had an enucleation of the left eye. She was home that night. By the next morning, if it weren’t for the tell-tale bandage, you would not know that she was sick.
December marked the beginning of her visits to the occularist, who began to fit her for a prosthetic eye. She also continued to make regular trips to Dr. Abramson to make sure the cancer had not returned.
While on vacation in the Poconos for President’s Week, Meghan began to look like she was getting a black eye. Her prostheses did not fit right, nor did it stay in very well. When the family returned to New York, they went to visit the occularist. A new prostheses was given, as well as the assurance that all was well. However as the week progressed, Meghan’s upper and lower eye lids continued to swell. By the following weekend, the prostheses would no longer stay in.
On Tuesday March 2, 2010, Meghan returned to Dr. Abramson, where her family was told the cancer had returned. The next two weeks were filled with trips to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where her team of doctors tried to figure out if the cancer had spread outside her eye socket. Finally, tests confirmed that the cancer had also spread to her bone marrow.
The chemotherapy has done quite a number on Maggie’s immune system, and she has been battling two tenacious viruses over the past five months. At one point, she was down to 20 lbs (she was 36 when she began in March). She is now given vitamins and lipids through her IV each night, and her weight has slowly climbed back up to 30 lbs.
Meghan is currently receiving chemotherapy treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and will soon be admitted for her bone marrow transplant. Her doctors are hopeful that the chemotherapy will destroy the cancer, but she has a rough road ahead.

After party to follow.

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