Jackson County

If these are the last days of little Sophia’s life, they will be ‘beautiful.’

Sophia Myers of Ocean Springs loves to dress up. This professional portrait of Sophia, now 7, was taken before her diagnosis with a rare and deadly brain tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. The portrait is by Carla Carter of Hurley, owner of Carla Carter photography.
Sophia Myers of Ocean Springs loves to dress up. This professional portrait of Sophia, now 7, was taken before her diagnosis with a rare and deadly brain tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. The portrait is by Carla Carter of Hurley, owner of Carla Carter photography. Courtesy of Carla Carter

Family, friends and strangers have come together to give 7-year-old Sophia Myers a beautiful and peaceful homecoming.

Sophia has been pleading to come home since she was hospitalized three weeks ago in the pediatric intensive care unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile. She is suffering from a rare, terminal brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic potine glioma.

The tumor has stolen her ability to walk, and compromised her speech, hearing and sight. Her parents, Angel and Joshua Myers, still hope for a miracle but also realize no child survives DIPG.

On average, children live nine months after diagnosis. Sophia, who is in her seventh month with DIPG, still manages to smile and was even able to clearly say, “Happy birthday” to her mom Friday.

Angel Myers, an attorney who prosecutes child abusers for the district attorney’s office based in Jackson County, wanted her daughter to have a sanctuary when she returned home. All the family had to do was mention the word and a host of people went to work.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Ocean Springs, along with family, friends and supporters, built a deck off the sunroom where Sophia’s hospital bed will be set up. But that was only the beginning.

Donations have poured into Courtney Farms, which is sending plants and yard ornaments for a secret garden that will surround the deck. Donations also have gone for a gas fire pit and deck chairs.

“Just the outreach of people has been amazing,” said Matison Gill, a sales clerk at Courtney Farms. “People who don’t even know the family, they’re crying on the phone and saying they want to make donations to Sophia.”

This is Diagnosis: Death, a seven-month Sun Herald investigation into DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor that has affected at least three children in Jackson County. The series publishes on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

Behind the Ocean Springs business, children worked all weekend on another special surprise for Sophia and her parents, but it is a secret until Sophia returns home.

Gill attributes the outpouring of support in large part to the eloquent, heartbreaking posts Angel Myers writes almost daily on Facebook. In those public posts, Myers shares her faith, love for Sophia, and despair over what DIPG is doing to her only child and other children suffering from the brain tumor.

Photos of Sophia, when she was healthy and now that she is sick, accompany the posts. There also are videos of Disney princesses and other special guests who have visited Sophia in the hospital.

Everything should be set up by the time Sophia arrives home. Her parents hope to bring her home Monday. They first had to equip the house for Sophia’s special needs.

Her parents want to make sure she is as comfortable and as free from pain as possible.

“My heart is so heavy for what Sophia is going through,” Angel Myers said Sunday. “Our church family and community have showed up and supported us in a way I never could have imagined.

“I continue to be without the right words to capture what my heart feels. It’s so inadequate, but thank you with all of our hearts. I can’t think of a more precious gift or a more noble way to spend your time and talent than making the last days of a child’s life beautiful.”

Sophia Myers and her parents, Angel and Josh, send thanks for their well wishes, prayers and help. Sophia is undergoing cancer treatment in Georgia.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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