Saturday, March 28, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Vacaville 8-year-old rebounds after scary cancer diagnosis

1 shae mccord 1

Mike McCord, left, kisses his daughter Shae, 8, in front of their house in Vacaville, May 21. Shae is recovering after being diagnosed with brain cancer last year and still lives an active life. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | June 01, 2014 |

VACAVILLE — Shae McCord has an impish grin and a quick wit.

Ask her about her competitive swimming and she’ll launch into conversation about her favorite stroke and why she doesn’t like backstroke.

School? Recess is her favorite, she said, as she giggled with her sisters. But she likes science, too.

Ask the 8-year-old to demonstrate disco dancing and you’ll get an impromptu rendition with her 7- and 10-year-old sisters, Catlyn and Falin, of John Travolta doing his famous dance in “Saturday Night Fever.”

Ask her about her cancer and the smile goes away. Much of the conversation goes away. Her demeanor is replaced by one that reveals the hardships she’s gone through in the past year after having a malignant brain tumor removed and it being diagnosed as a Stage 4 mass.

While much of her shiny brown hair has grown back, the lengthy scar tissue remains from the surgery. It goes from her forehead to behind her ears, is somewhat devoid of hair but only visible when the longish pixie cut flips itself the wrong way. Shae makes sure that doesn’t happen too often – with quick unconscious motions, she makes sure her hair is in check when she’s not wearing a hat.

She traced her fingers along the scar when asked about it. When asked if she knew how many stitches she had, she said, “No, but it had to be a lot.”

Shae’s ordeal began a year ago, right around Mother’s Day. She’d been previously diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines, which can cause muscle weakness on one side of the body and difficulty speaking. Shae was plagued with a bad headache one weekend that kept her home the next Monday. Her mother took her to the pediatrician Tuesday morning. From there, they were sent to a neurologist in Roseville and then on to Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento.

“Tuesday afternoon, she looked like someone who had a stroke,” her mother, Tara McCord, said as she described the quick loss of her daughter’s gross motor skills, along with one side of her face drooping. “It was that bad.”

Tara, still not realizing the severity of it, called her husband, when they talked about admitting her.

“It was just complete and utter shock,” she said, upon being told of the 7-centimeter mass in her daughter’s brain. “The whole floor dropped from underneath me.”

Surgery was immediate and lasted about 13 hours. Doctors prepared the parents, saying Shae might not be able to talk and there could be some paralysis. They also weren’t sure how long it would be before she had sensation or movement.

“I cried,” said 10-year-old Falin upon finding out her sister was in the hospital. Like Shae, her happy demeanor changed as she struggled to formulate words about how she felt during that time.

The parents waited and worried during surgery, but Mike McCord said they got to see her fairly soon afterward and before they even got into her room, she was moving.

“They were surprised,” Tara said of the doctors. “The first thing Shae asked was, ‘Where are my panties?’ ”

As the family sat in their kid-friendly living room recently, they laughed at that particular memory – Shae included, as she buried her head for a minute before coming up smiling.

Speaking clearly came just as fast and within 36 hours after surgery, Shae was up and walking. The headache pain, weakness, droopy face, loss of gross motor skills also disappeared.

With her family rallying behind her, Shae began chemotherapy and radiation at the same time in a test program – she began to lose her hair about halfway through. Shae continues chemo, with a round of MRIs on a regular basis. Much to the relief of the family, the tests have shown no regrowth. Also, much to their amazement, the chemotherapy has had little effect on her. She gets her chemotherapy infusion in a port, then goes home to swim practice.

“It doesn’t seem to affect her at all,” Tara said, adding that the only issue seems to be tiredness the week of chemotherapy.

After missing the last month of her second-grade year, Shae started third grade on time. She, like her siblings, are in the Spanish Immersion program at Cambridge Elementary School in Vacaville. Ten weeks after surgery, Shae was back in the pool swimming competitively and she also rejoined Girl Scouts.

“I am amazed by her,” Tara said. “I’m extremely proud of her and it breaks my heart that she has had to go through this.”

Shae’s lucky bounce back hasn’t been without traumatic remnants. The easier-to-deal-with reminders include loss of sensation in her hand – she’s had to switch writing hands and the normally independent child has to ask for help sometimes, her mother said. She continues to work with an occupational therapist to increase her fine motor skills.

The emotional scars are hidden behind family, where she feels safe and confident. Shae cried recently when her father tearfully recounted the day they found out about the tumor. The tears flowed freely also as talk turned to Shae’s hair loss during her initial chemotherapy and radiation – whether she lost all her hair or not is a matter of debate for Shae.

Tara can see the emotional change, as well, in her daughter.

“I look at pictures (taken after) and I can see it’s different,” she said. “I’m hoping that goes away.

“She’s gone through so much . . . she’s had to grow up.”

Despite differing ways of dealing with Shae’s illness, Mike and Tara have grown closer. They were told by a social worker that most families, within a year of a diagnosis such as this, split up.

“In our instance, we’re lucky, we’re one of the few,” she said. “We got closer. You appreciate every day.”

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Fraisure Smith hearing delayed twice Friday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Luncheon honors women for their work to help others

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Sheepdogs, handlers flock to Rio Vista for trials

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
Solano Rotary clubs honor top firefighters from across county

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Eatery to host event to support child with cancer

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
Project begins to brighten downtown Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 11 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: March 26, 2016

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Suisun police log: March 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Going home to mother

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10, 2 Comments

 
.

US / World

 
Jury says Silicon Valley firm did not discriminate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Gov. Brown signs $1 billion water plan for dry California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Public defender: San Francisco jail inmates forced to fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
NY mayor: Someone may have ‘inappropriately’ tapped gas line

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Feds: Baltimore jail illegally keeping juveniles in solitary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Autopsies determine children found in freezer were slain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fetus debate looms following charges in womb-cutting case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Pugnacious Reid retiring, wants Schumer as Senate Dem leader

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Senate OKs Republican balanced-budget plan, following House

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
‘Sopranos’ star’s apartment destroyed by blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Pilot who scared passengers sues airline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

‘Mad Men’ costumes, props head to Smithsonian

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US economy showing signs of durability

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Mexico City businesses cite losses during Bond filming

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Comedian Gardell hosts game show version of Monopoly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Nelson set to return to role as Coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
German airline could face ‘unlimited’ damages for Alps crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Co-pilot appeared healthy, but may have hidden illness

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
About 4,000 fishermen stranded on Indonesian islands

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Warships move in key strait as airstrikes widen in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Iran says nuke talks focused despite Yemen crisis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

At least 9 dead as militants attack hotel in Somali capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned by Italy high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Books as decor: Versatile but meaningful design elements

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Today in History: March 28, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: March 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: March 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

My elderly mother is so stingy I’m finding excuses not to visit her

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

 
The newest fitness trend: Mixing it up

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Entertainment

‘Stomp’ stopped by NYC blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Mannequin museum show hits New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
‘Teen Mom’ star charged in picture posting case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

People: Zane Malik

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Larry David Broadway role handed to Jason Alexander

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Notre Dame beats Stanford women 81-60, advances to Elite Eight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry, Thompson lead Warriors in rout over Grizzlies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Evans helps desperate Pelicans end skid vs. Kings, 102-88

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Ranuado goes 6 for Rangers’ but A’s rally for 7-6 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
A-Rod’s cousin pleads guilty in Florida steroids case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Durant to have another surgery, miss rest of season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chicago rooftop owner charged with trying to defraud Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gift returns: Sterling wife wants house, $1 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Shaq acknowledges regret about decision to leave Magic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NASCAR topic: Cheating with tire pressure, or just hot air?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hot Rod Hundley, former NBA player and Jazz announcer, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Area resident Jimmy Walker takes lead in Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Logano wins Martinsville pole; Elliott to start 27th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for March 28, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Home Seller 3/28/2015

Books as decor: Versatile but meaningful design elements

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1Comments are off for this post | Gallery

Real estate transactions for March 28, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2