BOARDMAN, Ohio - It was the middle of April when 12 year-old Marissa Salus of Boardman lost feeling in her left arm. It went away, only to return the following day at school.
Her parents, Ed and Anne Marie, decided to make her an appointment. Doctors told them it was just a bruise.
"As a parent, you know when something is wrong with your child," said Ed Salus.
So they made another appointment. This time, Marissa was put through a number of tests.
"The doctor had already left that day. He was going half a day, doing whatever he was doing and they told us the doctor was on his way back in," Salus said.
An x-ray discovered the reason for Marissa's numb arm. A cancerous tumor, known as a chordoma, had grown around nearly half her spine. It is a cancer so rare that only 300 new cases are diagnosed each year.
"It is primarily in adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s. It is almost unheard of in children. Although, it can occur from time to time," said Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Dr. Iain Kalfas.
Dr. Kalfas performed nearly 15 hours of surgery on Marissa to remove her tumor. She will begin eight weeks of proton beam radiation therapy in Philadelphia, and even after all she's been through and will go through, it's possible the tumor will reappear.
"Sometimes you sit and you think this isn't real. You think this really isn't happening because you never in a million years would ever dream that someone would ever tell you this about your own child," said Anne Marie Salus.
Boardman Medical Supply is hosting a benefit dinner on Saturday June 29th for Marissa. It will take place at the Mahoning United Methodist Church from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for kids. You can also donate online at http://www.boardmanmedicalsupply.com