Thursday, August 10, 2023

Occult brain tumor

Our dear friend, Liza Burke, desperately needs our help. Liza, a senior at UGA, was enjoying her last spring break in Cabo San Lucas with a big group of friends. She woke Friday morning feeling great. At breakfast, she complained of a headache and went back to the room to rest. A few hours later, her friends called the doctor because they couldn't wake her. She was immediately rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which cause her brain to hemorrhage. She is currently on life-support. Her family and doctors are working hard to give her the best medical treatment possible. They have agreed that she needs to return to the U.S. immediately to receive expert care from experienced doctors. So many people have reached out wanting to help which is a testament to how many people Liza has touched. She is genuine, dynamic, playful and fierce. She has so much left to give to the world. Please continue to pray for her full recovery. All donations will help fund her life-flight transport from Mexico to Jacksonville. Thank you for loving our sweet Liza...

Liza suffered a brain hemorrhage while on Spring Break with friends in Mexico on Friday, March 10. She spent 3 nights in a small, private hospital in Cabo San Lucas, where her life was saved. Your contributions enabled her family to cover hospital costs for her care in Cabo San Lucas and her air ambulance travel to Jacksonville, Florida where she will receive the best medical care possible. Our strong girl is fighting, and we are slowly seeing signs of improvement as she can squeeze her mom’s hand, move her limbs slightly, and nod or shake her head in response to questions. We are still unsure of what lies ahead as there remain so many unknowns. Liza's care team is doing all they can to work towards the next steps...

A lot has changed since our last update. 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, but a brain tumor located near her brain stem. We had a successful biopsy yesterday and the pathology team is working to determine exactly what we are dealing with.

From Laura (mom)

10:30am update. It's Friday, the last day for action before the hospital goes dormant for 2 days. Dormant like this tumor likely was for many years before it became aggressive in a very short time. Thankfully, our optimistic Dr. Trifiletti (radiologist) is pushing her radiation mask through for today-even if they need to make it while she is still on the ventilator. We won't have a full pathology report for a week but he intends to start radiation on Monday as soon as the mask is ready. She'll get 30 sessions daily M-F over the next 5-6 weeks. 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. 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...

Our strong Liza began radiation treatments yesterday, which will continue daily over the next six weeks. Her incredible medical team, including the wonderful Dr. Q, confirms that she is battling an aggressive brain tumor. Results from the brain biopsy, expected later this week, will allow them to further determine more specifics and adjust her treatment plan as needed. The family has decided to re-open the GoFundMe as costs associated with her care far exceed any medical coverage. We are extraordinarily grateful for your support and continued prayers for Liza’s recovery. As her mom, Laura, said, “Liza’s the leader in this fight but we are her warriors marching into battle with her.”...

"It is with both relief and belief that I share Liza’s passing at around 2:20 last night. Liza has now been reunited with her sister and they are making up for lost time!

Celebrations of Liza’s big energy are in the planning stages: one in Athens and another at a later date in her hometown of Asheville...

The family and friends of Liza thank you for your continued support of Liza through your thoughts, prayers and donations. At this time, we are closing the donations and ask that you consider donating to the Liza and Edie Burke Foundation. Please see details below.

Eliza (Liza) Grace Burke arrived right on schedule on July 10, 2001 and wasted no time living life to the fullest. She cherished her siblings, Jack and Edie. As her older sister’s abilities declined from the effects of MPS1, Liza proudly assumed the role of little “big sister” until Edie’s death when Liza was only six. Liza was the youngest of ten children born in her neighborhood in one calendar year and, although she was the smallest, she was the fiercest and the undisputed leader of the pack. She was open to wonder and magic, and was frequently found resting with her head on the family sofa and her feet in the air. She was steadfast in her love for family and friends (offering encouragement or a tiny shoulder to cry on), much like her abundant respect and care for animals (fostering and socializing limitless kittens) as well as the planet (recycle and stop wasting the AC, people!).

Liza lived large, like every day could be her last. She was not only at ease in nature, she was intrepid—whether watching sunsets from a mountain top tent, swimming solo across any body of water, or surfing in Central America. As Liza matured, she accomplished more in 21 years than many people do in a lifetime. She spoke two languages, played guitar, traveled the world, went skydiving, hiked across a glacier, joyfully sang and danced — always without fear of judgement. When she decided to go to the University of Georgia, she did so because others told her they LOVED it, not because of where its education might take her. It was the experience that mattered to Liza. She had an innate way of bringing people together, making everyone feel loved, and sharing her contagious laugh with those she met.

Astronomers have determined that the brightest, hottest, and most active stars have the shortest lifespans. Liza is like one of those brightest stars. In her short time here, she gave off an extraordinary amount of light, energy, and love. Her life serves a reminder to go through life unapologetically, take chances, speak and act boldly, cherish the little things, laugh often, and to stay present.

Following a six-week battle with a previously-undiagnosed brain tumor, Liza transitioned into the next realm peacefully while being cared for by friends and family. Heaven is undoubtedly rejoicing at her arrival. But she will be missed by so many in her hometown of Asheville, NC, and home-away-from-home, Athens, GA. Her survivors look forward to the day that Liza guides them from this lifetime into their next big adventure. They include her mother Laura McKeithen (Bryan Mickler); father Tom Burke; brother Jack Burke; and grandparents Loy McKeithen (Susan); Kitty McKeithen and Dennis Burke along with countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends across the globe.


A college student fell unconscious on Spring Break: Her story sheds light on a rare brain disorder

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