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3-year-old checks off 'bucket list' item with ride on Chopper 5

By Andrew Wittenberg | Posted - Nov. 19, 2013 at 10:08 p.m.


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BOUNTIFUL — It wouldn't exactly be described as the ride of a lifetime for most, but it very well may be for Mariah Teller.

The 3-year-old was strapped into KSL's Chopper 5 Tuesday afternoon for a ride over her hometown of Bountiful. It was an item on the bucket list she and her parents created when they found out she has a very rare and deadly form of cancer.

"She really doesn't have any idea right now, that she's sick," said Terra Teller, Mariah's mother.

In July, Mariah was diagnosed with diffused intrinsic pontine glioma. It's a cancer that strikes quickly, and none of its victims has ever survived.

The bouncing, playful toddler will likely not live to see next summer. Underneath her beautifully curled hair, a tumor grows on her brain stem.

Right now, she doesn't show any visible signs.

"In a way, I'm grateful for that," Terra said, "because she's able to live very happy while she has this. They call it 'the honeymoon period.'"

Did you know ...

  • Diffuse pontine glioma is a glial tumor, meaning that it arises in the glial (supportive) tissue of the lowest, stem-like part of the brain, which controls many of the body's most vital functions.
  • Diffuse pontine gliomas account for 10 to 15 percent of all childhood central nervous system tumors.
  • The median age at diagnosis is 5 to 9 years old but they can occur at any age in childhood.
  • These tumors occur with equal frequency in boys and girls and do not generally appear in adults.

  • Source: Boston Children's Hospital

  • When doctors gave Mariah nine months — a year at most — to live, her parents decided to let her make a bucket list. It included a Jazz game, where she got to meet the team; Disney On Ice tickets; and a ride in a helicopter.

    During Mariah's flight over Bountiful Tuesday, she saw her home, and even her grandmother, from the sky. When she set back down on the ground, she and went right back to her mom.

    At this point, there is little the Teller family can do except hope and pray, and work to fulfill a little girl's wishes.

    "I'm not giving up hope," Terra said. "But one thing that I can do is give her the most amazing time with the time that she has."

    Email: awittenberg@ksl.com

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