Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Believe! Mary’s 7 month AVM Anniversary!

On a Wing and a Prayer

I still have to pack myself but for the most part, we are ready to go! We have a team of eager helpers all set to care for Thomas, our dogs and our home. Tonight we were able to have a special evening at home with Phillip and Jessica. They and my parents will stay with Thomas during our first week away. It is not easy for me to leave Thomas for 2+ weeks under such serious circumstances. But imagine how grateful I am to have our family nearby. It is such a blessing that my film student son’s first job just happens to be 30 minutes from us. Amazing!

Thomas, Mary, Phillip, Jessica~the night before we fly to SF

After some routine appointments on Wednesday, we will try to make the best of Mary’s free night before she is admitted on Thursday. We’ll have dinner at a favorite spot, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and take in some sights of the city.

While we are in San Francisco we have some wonderful support. Brad's company, Oracle, has allowed him time off to be with us and have given us great personal support. My cousins who referred us to Dr. Lawton, my aunt and uncle, and Jessica’s family all live in the bay area. Brad’s parents live in Placerville, about 2.5 hours away. All of this was important in our decision to choose a San Francisco surgeon vs. those surgeons in Dallas or Phoenix.

Mary and Zane

During that difficult decision process, Zane helped Mary to have the courage to choose surgery over Cyberknife, saving her life. He was with her the day she found out the date of her surgery. Even though he has a heavy load in school and is also preparing to take the MCAT’s, he has arranged his life in order to be with Mary as much as he can. It is important to both of them that he is with her before she goes into surgery and when she wakes up.

The visiting hours are much more restrictive at UCSF than the ICU here in Vancouver. But we plan to be with her every moment that we can. We anticipate she will be in the hospital for about 1 week. We will stay an additional week in the bay area in case there are any immediate complications. Dr. Lawton expects that we will then be able to fly back and Mary can recover at home for about 6 more weeks.

Mary and Peggy


Just before Thanksgiving, we flew to San Francisco to meet with Dr. Lawton. I had so many concerns and mixed emotions as we sat in his office that day. From the moment we found out that Mary had a large AVM in her brain, we were told that surgery was not an option. We had learned everything we could about Cyberknife (radiation surgery) and Mary already had all of the preparatory tests completed. They even had made the special protective mask that she would wear.

Yet, there we sat~in a strange hospital~700 miles from home~with a surgeon we just met~telling us that this ‘impossible’ surgery could save Mary. He made every effort to be sure that we understood the risks and the benefits of surgery vs Cyberknife. He explained why he believes he can remove Mary’s AVM and why it is ultimately a much better option for her. He told us that he can give her a 90% or better chance for a full cure and complete recovery within 8 weeks!

In 2010, UCSF was ranked #1 in neurosurgery and neurology on the west coast. Dr. Lawton is one of the few vascular neurosurgeons in the US, qualified to remove Mary’s AVM. He will be her surgeon on Friday. Many students and specialists all over the country will learn from Mary’s AVM. UCSF has an AVM study group that will follow Mary’s case for the next 2 years. Mary and I are so excited about that!

Of the many people who read about Mary, I know that this audience is comprised of many different religions. Even though some of you do not believe in any religion or even in God, there is still a measure of hope and faith. Thank you to those who have prayed for Mary, even though you have not prayed for anything else for many years. Your combined good thoughts, well wishes and prayers on Mary’s behalf have made a difference in her life. I believe that we cannot get through this trial or any other trial without each other.

I believe that we have seen miracles through Mary. On June 19, 2010 Mary lived. Over the course of her critical condition in the ICU, she lived. 10 weeks later, she began classes at BYU. In 7 months, she has not been sick one time (an actual illness, not including nausea & headaches!). Mary’s AVM separated itself after the hemorrhage, ending up in the Sylvian Fissure, making surgery possible

No matter what you believe, miracles have happened to Mary this year. I believe that there are more miracles to come. Mary will have a successful surgery this Friday morning. She will fully recover and lead a full, happy, normal life!


Read more about Mary’s story at:


  1. Your family is in my prayers!!!! I was just on vacation in San Francisco and I am sad I missed you guys. I know all will go well & Thomas will be in good hands. Keep us updated!!!!