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Medical battles persist for USF softball alumnus Meredith Bissette

The former Bulls power hitter nearly lost her life after a rare diagnosis earlier this year.
Former USF softball infielder Meredith Bissette (00), whose career was ended by a baseball-sized pelvic tumor in 2016, recently spent more than four months in intensive care following a rare diagnosis that led to meningitis.
Former USF softball infielder Meredith Bissette (00), whose career was ended by a baseball-sized pelvic tumor in 2016, recently spent more than four months in intensive care following a rare diagnosis that led to meningitis. [ USF Athletics ]
Published Apr. 21
Updated Apr. 21

One of the most inspirational players in USF softball history is confined to a wheelchair these days. Adversity keeps coming at Meredith Bissette in a series of wicked hops.

“It’s been one thing after another,” said her mother, Marlene Bissette. “But you know how Meredith is, she kind of fights through it.”

Four years after her conquest of a baseball-sized pelvic tumor that nonetheless ended her softball career, Bissette again was fighting for her life earlier this year after being diagnosed with an extremely rare condition — enterothecal fistula — that led to E. coli meningitis. The initial symptom: a bad headache she first experienced while working out last October.

Bissette, 25, who was set to begin an accelerated nursing program at Duke University in January, instead found herself in intensive care for more than four months.

“It’s like, one in a billion,” Marlene Bissette said. “Duke has never even seen it before. It’s actually where there’s communication between the small bowel and spinal cord and brain, basically. She had horrible, horrible complications from that. ... She almost passed away so many times. They were like, ‘I don’t know if she’s going to make it through the day.’”

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Bissette, who remembers nothing from her ICU stay or the series of surgeries she underwent (according to her mom), entered a rehab facility Jan. 14. Soon thereafter, she returned to the hospital when the hardware inserted to rebuild her pelvic area — following the removal of the tumor in 2016 — became infected.

She’s currently back home in Creedmor, N.C., undergoing a six-week round of antibiotics. Another surgery awaits her, to replace the hardware. “It’s been a crazy, crazy six months,” Marlene Bissette said.

Friends have set up a fundraising page for Bissette, selling T-shirts bearing the slogan: Rise Like the Sun and Move Mountains. All proceeds go toward her family’s medical expenses. Meantime, she has been assured by Duke University she can enter the nursing program in 2022, Marlene said.

“Under all the circumstances, she’s doing fine,” her mother added. “She’s beaten every odd there ever is.”

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