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Stephen King fan with terminal illness visits Bangor on cross-country trek

In order to get Marissa to comply with her treatments, she and her doctor came up with a plan that included King.
Stephen King autographs book for 16-year-old with terminal disease.
Stephen King autographs book for 16-year-old with terminal disease.(Dawn Graczyk)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Marissa Graczyk was diagnosed with Freidreich’s Ataxia when she was 12-years-old.

It’s a rare genetic disease that she and her 10-year-old brother both have.

“It originates in the cerebellum and causes progressive nerve damage throughout the body. In Marissa’s case, it has impacted her heart and lungs and obviously her mobility in both fine and gross motor skills,” said Dawn Graczyk, Marissa’s mom.

Graczyk says Marissa used to read eight hours a day until a doctor told them last year she might not be able to read paper books anymore.

Once she and her neurologist started talking about Stephen King and watching movies, that motivation to read came back.

“I love books, and I think he has a great imagination, and I’ve never read books as good as his are before,” Marissa said.

In order to get Marissa to comply with her treatments, she and her doctor came up with a plan that included her new favorite author.

“He said the deal is, she complies with treatment and you have to watch IT. So that hospital stay, we watched IT three times, and then we moved onto The Shining,” Dawn said.

After a recent doctor’s appointment, Marissa and her mom had to have a difficult conversation that no parent wants to have with their child.

“She asked how she was going to die and said, this doesn’t feel like living anymore,” Dawn said.

The Graczyks decided to leave Marissa’s four brothers at home with dad and embark on a road trip across the country.

From Nashville to Orlando, they made their way to Bangor - the home of Stephen King.

“I don’t know much about what there is to see in Bangor, but I’m excited to see some of the haunted artifacts and the house that Stephen King grew up in,” Marissa said.

While Marissa didn’t get to meet King, she did get some autographed books from him after the tour.

Her mom says this journey has shown her just how kind people can be.

To help out with their journey and follow along you can head to this website.

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