Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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 swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. 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

Walnut Grove: Fun facts, things to see

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Ryde Hotel: A speakeasy from the past

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Walnut Grove shows a bit of historic Japan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano County supervisors get raise

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A2, 10 Comments

Solano supervisors declare quake state of emergency

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Aug. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B3

Solano helps after Napa quake

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
 
Solano promotes hand washing

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Learn about local travel opportunities

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Solano College to host college transfer fair

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A6

Golf tournament to benefit college sport’s teams

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A6

 
Man steals car from Fairfield resident

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6, 6 Comments

 
Pierce Brosnan thriller kicks off week’s new films

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Museum guild schedules trip to historic San Francisco home

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A8

 
 
 
3 die in I-680 crash; 2 from Vacaville

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A9, 10 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 24, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 25, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 24, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Los Angeles schools halt iPad deal amid criticism

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Report finds 1,400 children exploited in UK town

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Police: Slain woman ID’d ex-deputy as her attacker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Officials: Instructor accidentally killed by girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 11 Comments

Judges blast Indiana, Wisconsin gay marriage bans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
UN panel: Global warming human-caused, dangerous

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Obama defends handling of veterans affairs issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 10 Comments

 
American woman held hostage in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Arab strikes in Libya show impatience with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
AP sources: US surveillance planes fly over Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

Napa quake stirs clamor for warning system

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Putin and Poroshenko meet for bilateral talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Group files petition to idle coastal nuke plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Israel, Hamas agree to open-ended Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

.

Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Aug. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Question of the week: Is US policy on hostages correct?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Obama risks alienating Latinos from Dems

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
How to reduce taxes without busting the budget

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A11

 
Abandoned carts are everyone’s responsibility

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

We were good parents. Why won’t our adult children help us out?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

Choosing chutney

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B7

 
Banishing the blues with healthy blueberry muffins

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus’ date wanted by Oregon police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NBC’s Emmycast logs robust 15.6 million viewership

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Women talk about sports on CBS Sports Network

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Serena Williams beats American teen at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Carter’s HR in 8th leads Astros over A’s 4-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

US teen Bellis, 15, stuns Cibulkova at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders CB DJ Hayden to start season on PUP list

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers prepare for possible Aldon Smith suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
TMS 2015 schedule springs back to night race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Love struck: Kevin Love pledges commitment to Cavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sarkisian: USC looking into Shaw’s heroic story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Davis, US men beat Slovenia in basketball exhibition

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Latest Astrodome proposal: massive indoor park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bumgarner flirts with perfection, finishes with 1-hitter in Giants win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

No reason to feel sorry for Jim Furyk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

UN health agency urges crackdown on e-cigarettes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
Survey: US consumer confidence near a 7-year high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Burger King buys, plans expansion of Tim Hortons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
.

Obituaries

Lyle Cullum

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Florentino”Paul” Castaneda Bersola

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Nadine L Wetherell

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest

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

B.C.

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

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6