Love, match: St. Mary's girl inspires tennis benefit

Madisen Abramson, 5, of Mechanicsville is the inspiration for Madisen's Match, a pro-am tennis clinic and exhibition to be held in Florida on Feb. 19 and 20.
Madisen Abramson, 5, of Mechanicsville is the inspiration for Madisen's Match, a pro-am tennis clinic and exhibition to be held in Florida on Feb. 19 and 20. (Susan Craton/the Enterprise)
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By Susan Craton
The Enterprise
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Madisen Abramson is a 5-year-old who lives in Mechanicsville with her mom, dad and two brothers.

She likes to watch "iCarly." Her favorite color is pink. She loves the movie "Snow White" and acts out the story with her cousin, McKenzie.

Her bedroom walls are decorated with butterflies that light up in pastel colors. She loves kindergarten at Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary. "I like to do everything in school," she says, but she especially enjoys art.

Madisen also is the inspiration for a benefit tennis match that will be played in Florida this month. Madisen has an inoperable brain tumor intertwined with her brain stem. The benefit is designed to raise money for pediatric brain tumor research to help children in Madisen's situation.

Madisen's Match, a pro-am clinic and exhibition, will take place Feb. 20 at the West Bay Beach and Golf Club, near Fort Myers, Fla., to raise money for the Tim and Tom Gullikson Family Support Fund, which benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, and Barbara's Friends, the Children's Hospital Cancer Fund with Lee Memorial Health System Foundation. The match is in its second year and was organized by Madisen's uncle, Duane Chaney of Fort Myers.

Madisen's father, Mike Abramson, sat in the family's home in Golden Beach this month and held up his hands, wrapping his thumbs together to demonstrate how the tumor has become embedded in his daughter's brain stem.

"It's been a roller coaster, mildly put," he said.

Since Madisen's birth Sept. 7, 2004, she has been dogged by health problems, including respiratory difficulties. In spring 2008, she underwent a CT scan as part of a sleep study that was intended to help with her respiratory troubles. The doctor noted that something didn't look right on the scan and ordered an MRI, which showed the brain tumor, which was confirmed through a biopsy at Children's National Medical Center in the District that May.

Because of the tumor's location, surgery is not an option. Madisen began chemotherapy at Children's Hospital once a week. After several months, she developed an allergic reaction to the treatment, and chemotherapy was stopped.

Last spring, social workers at Children's Hospital contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Madisen's behalf. "We fulfill wishes for children ages 2 1/2 to 18 who suffer from a life-threatening medical condition," said Mary Roth, vice president of program services for the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation for the Mid-Atlantic.

Representatives from the foundation visited Madisen and asked her, "What is your one true wish?" Roth said. "And Madisen said a play set," which now sits in the Abramsons' front yard.

Although her treatment was halted, Madisen's health has not worsened. Her condition is monitored through an MRI she receives every three months. So far, the tumor has remained stable and not grown, her parents said.

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