UGA student Liza Burke diagnosed with brain tumor
University of Georgie student Liza Burke, who suffered a brain hemorrhage while on spring break in Mexico, has been diagnosed with an aggressive tumor.
“A very talented team of doctors have been working hard on our sweet Liza to get a firm diagnosis. We know now that is not AVM (arteriovenous malformation), but a brain tumor located near her brain stem,” her mom Laura McKeithen said on a GoFundMe page.
Burke, 22, who is originally from North Carolina, suffered a brain bleed on March 10 while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas with her boyfriend and a group of pals.
She underwent emergency surgery to remove part of her skull before being flown back to the US and has been hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.
The college senior was initially diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels that irregularly connect arteries and veins, disrupting blood and oxygen flow.
But late last week, the family received the devastating new diagnosis after she underwent a biopsy.
McKeithen said her daughter’s tumor had apparently been “dormant” for several years “before it became aggressive in a very short time.”
She said a radiologist has planned to treat Burke with intensive radiation while she remains on a ventilator as they await a full pathology report about the tumor.
“There are potential side effects but well worth the risk given the rapid growth. Currently Liza is breathing on her own but until she responds to our commands (toe wiggle, hand squeeze) the doctors are reluctant to remove the vent,” reads the update on GoFundMe, which has raised almost $143,000 as of Tuesday morning.
“Please pray for her responsiveness and her fighting spirit. She’s the leader in this fight but we are her warriors marching into battle with her,” he mom added.
Burke is expected to receive 30 radiation sessions daily Monday to Friday for the next five to six weeks, according to the update.
On Monday, McKeithen told the Daily Mail that her daughter wiggled her toes and squeezed a doctor’s hands.
She said Burke had complained about symptoms in her head a few times over the last few years.
“She’d tell me, ‘I think there is something wrong in my head. I feel like I am going to pass out,’” McKeithen told the outlet.
“I assumed it was just a 20-something girl who is under a lot of pressure. The way she said it — it was never a plea… she never seemed like there was an urgency,” she said.
McKeithen recounted that her daughter went cliff diving, took a boat ride and enjoyed a bonfire with the group before she experienced the emergency.
“She was feeling great and she sent me a photo of her doing a handstand,” the mom told the Daily Mail.
The next day, Burke came down with a bad headache after a gym session and told her boyfriend she was going to take a nap.
But when he stopped by hours later and tried to wake her up, she wouldn’t respond, so he rushed her to a hospital.
“I really do think there is a universal energy of something that will cure her — it will just be that just keep praying everyone,” McKeithen told the outlet.
The proud mom said Burke, a dual business management and Spanish major, was set to graduate in May and had a job lined up at Mutual of America in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The family had to endure adversity before.
In 2008, her daughter Edith died due to a rare genetic disorder called Mucopolysarcharidosis type I, which is characterized by an abnormal buildup of toxins in the body’s cells, the outlet reported.
McKeithen also has a 26-year-old son.
“Every step of the way we find a way to get over the next hurdle. I don’t think it is by chance but by the prayers and her will,” she said about her stricken daughter.