Hope for Elissa
Elissa Loock, a bright eyed, enthusiastic 9-year old girl with a contagious giggle, is going to undergo a second delicate brain surgery in the beginning of December, which will involve a month long recovery in the ICU at Oakland Kaiser. The surgery is to remove a Craniopharyngiuma Brain Tumor, which grows very slowly off the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Right above it on either side are her optic nerves, and right below on either side are her carotid arteries. The doctors have informed Elissa’s parents that if there are complications during the surgery due to scar tissue from the previous surgery and/or other medical complications, they will withdraw and the next step in treatment will be radiation.
In June of 2009 Elissa was first diagnosed with the tumor. Elissa had been experiencing headaches, increasing in numbers and strength, and intense enough to make her physically sick, which her previous doctors dismissed as being related to her need for eye glasses. Luckily, due to an unexpected change in her father’s employment, and a change of medical insurance, Kaiser doctors discovered the tumor. It was the size of a golf ball. The doctors moved quickly to operate in hopes of avoiding lasting damage to Elissa’s eyesight. On July 14th 2009, Elissa spent 11 hours in surgery while her family anxiously paced the waiting room. Two doctors came out after the surgery and happily reported that they were able to save her pituitary gland, but she would need to have MRI’s every 2-3 months to monitor. They said she was one of only 10% of patients that doctors had been successful in saving the gland. She spent 18 days recovering in the Oakland Kaiser ICU. Elissa lost her sense of smell due to the surgery, and was put on hormone medication for Diabetes Insipidus and a seizure medication that she only recently was able to stop taking. The most important thing was that the headaches were for the most part gone and Elissa was finally able to be her cheerful, giggly self again.
After a one-month at home recovery, Elissa was able to return to her school with medical restrictions. She was so brave when she went in to meet her second grade classmates for the first time. She was worried about what they would think of her condition, and if they would tease her about her jagged hair growth that was the result of her head being shaved from center scalp forward to allow for the intrusive incision that stretches from ear to ear along the top of her head. To Elissa’s mom’s delight, the children were supportive, and before Elissa left the class she voluntarily removed her hand made head wrap that her Auntie made her and showed the class her scar. It was then that her parents knew how very strong she was and that her courage would guide her safely back to her usual school routine.
However, only a short while after her life began to be normal again, an MRI proved that there was indeed a spot still on Elissa’s pituitary gland. Not positive if it was scar tissue or the worst-case scenario, the tumor growing back, doctors continued to monitor it. In June of this year the doctors said that there was a definite change in the spot. In September Elissa had another MRI. The doctor’s gave her parents the dreaded results on October 31, which also happens to be Elissa’s Birthday. They would have to operate again, this time taking the pituitary gland resulting in a life time of medication and complications for Elissa due to lack of hormones naturally secreted by the gland. Her doctors are wasting no time again because of possible damage to her optic nerves.
Elissa lives in Lodi, CA with her Father and Mother, Austin and Shannon Loock, and her supportive younger sister Makayla. Elissa attends Borchardt Elementary and is currently in the 4th grade. The family has been active with the American Cancer Society Relay For Life annually since Elissa’s first surgery, and are even planning on sponsoring their own fund-raising team in 2012. Last summer Elissa was featured on the front page of the Lodi News Sentinel as a cancer survivor during the Relay for Life. Elissa, Makayla and Shannon have also been active in Girl Scouts for the past three years.
Elissa and her family showed amazing strength during the first surgery and throughout her recovery. Their friends and family want to thank everyone who contributed to help meet their financial needs during that sensitive time, which allowed them to focus more on what is really important, taking care of their two beautiful daughters, Elissa and Makayla.
During this Holiday Season, the Loock family and friends are again asking our community to come together and help this deserving family. Elissa’s Mom is a day care provider. She will be unable to earn an income for the family during Elissa’s long recovery and the family will also endure extra expenses for traveling and related expenses while Elissa is recovering for a month in Oakland. Your support through this difficult time is very much appreciated.
With Much Love and Thanks,
Elissa’s Family and Friends
You can help Elissa’s family by one of several ways:
1. Donate to Elissa’s account, Wells Fargo Bank, Acct.#5561038331
2. Schedule a hair appointment with Shannon at Luscious Salon, Downtown Lodi, November 30, December 1 or December 2 and 100% of the proceeds will go to Elissa. You can reach Shannon at 209-969-7116.
3. Participate in the Rick’s Pizza Fundraiser on December 14th. 1/4 of all dine in and take out orders will go to Elissa and her family. You need to have a flier present when paying.
4. Donate the $100 Registration Fee for the “Army of Hope” 2012 Relay of Life Team in the Loock Family name.
5. Donate to Elissa and Makayla’s Christmas Wish-List.
6. Bring your unwrapped gifts to St. Paul’s Church from 1pm to 8pm on December 21st and we will have volunteers available to wrap your gifts for a small fee while you browse our baked goods for sale or run a few quick errands. All proceeds will go to the Loock Family.