Harrison County

Long road ahead for 7-year-old, but the community’s behind her

Harrison County Sheriff's Sgt. Zach McCabe spends time with daughter Lily, 7, as she undergoes treatment after having a brain tumor removed at Ochsner Medical Center. Lily’s sister Ava, 8, also is pictured.
Harrison County Sheriff's Sgt. Zach McCabe spends time with daughter Lily, 7, as she undergoes treatment after having a brain tumor removed at Ochsner Medical Center. Lily’s sister Ava, 8, also is pictured.

Seven-year-old Lily McCabe has a community behind her as she undergoes treatment for a brain tumor.

Her father is a Harrison County Sheriff’s deputy, while her mom home schools Lily and sister Ava, 8, and during the day cares for baby brother Cameron.

The Sheriff’s Department, their church family and friends of the McCabe’s large extended family have all rallied to send Lily prayers and well-wishes, and raise money for expenses.

Lily first started complaining in August of occasional morning nausea. When the nausea grew more frequent in September, Ashley McCabe took her daughter to her pediatrician, but an exam revealed no obvious problems.

The bouts with nausea increased until Lily wound up in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, where an MRI showed fluid on her brain. Doctors sent her to Ochner’s Medical Center. There, Lily was diagnosed with Medulloblastmo, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.

Doctors removed the tumor in mid-October. A spinal tap after surgery revealed no cancer cells in her spinal fluid, which makes her prognosis for recovery excellent. Lily is undergoing six weeks of radiation, five days a week, as an outpatient. Her mom was commuting with her daily at first, but the trips were too hard on Lily. They now stay with a friend in New Orleans.

Once her radiation is finished, Lily will receive more frequent chemotherapy treatments. Treatment will continue for a year.

“She's doing as well as you would expect a seven-year-old to do,” Ashley McCabe said. “She is a fighter. She is very strong. Sometimes, we have to remind her of how strong she is when she gets discouraged.”

Lily understands she is sick and that the treatment she is receiving will make her better, her mom said. She also knows about all the calls, texts and fund-raising taking place on her behalf. There’s even a t-shirt with her name on it.

“I have told her how many people have reached out,” her mom said. ““I do believe that she feels special knowing all of the things that are being done for her.”

The Harrison County Deputy Sheriff’s Association cooked up 220 pork butts Tuesday, selling them to raise money for the family’s expenses.

“We had an officer in need,” said Major Evan Hubbard. “This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to raise money.”

The deputies were cooking the butts in smokers at the county work center on Cowan-Lorraine Road. Most had been sold and people were stopping by to pick them up.

Ann Fore was one of the customers. Fore owns Emily Grace, a baby and children’s clothing store in Gulfport.

“I have clothed this little girl since she was born,” Fore said. “She is a sweet, sweet little girl. Just precious. My heart goes out to them. I hope they do really well with the fund raiser.”

The McCabe’s church family at Gulf Haven Mennonite Church also has been extremely helpful. When other members of the church have been sick in the past, Lily has always jumped in to help her mother cook meals for those members.

“We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support from the community, and family and friends,” Ashley McCabe said. “We've just been blessed beyond measure by what everyone has done for us. Words cannot express how grateful we truly are.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

How to help

The Harrison County Deputy Sheriff’s Association is raising money to help cover medical and travel expenses for the family of Lily McCabe, who is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans after having a brain tumor removed. Her father, Zach McCabe, is a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Department.

About the shirts: T-shirts are $16 ($20 for size 2X or larger), in teal, orange, pink, blue or black. They say “Lily” in small script on front and “I stand with Lily” on back.

To order: Email or call Sgt. Chelsé Alford: chelse.alford@harrisoncountysheriff.com, 228-234-1181.