Sophia Ann Myers, "SoSo," was a healthy, normal, active 7-year-old child in the first grade at Oak Park Elementary, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. On February 21, 2017, when she was diagnosed with DIPG. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is the deadliest and most aggressive form of brain cancer. Sophia was the third child in our town to be diagnosed with this “rare” cancer. She had just competed in a dance competition that her team placed first in. She loved to dance, sing, tumble, and tell jokes. Sophia was wise and witty beyond her years. She was also a talented soccer player and was a member of Girl Scout Troop 3560. She was a free-spirited, kind, compassionate kid who loved all living things.
Our cancer journey began a week earlier, on February 14, 2017, when Sophia was diagnosed with the flu. As the week progressed her symptoms didn’t match with the type of flu she had. We noticed that she was off balance and her eye looked different. We stayed in touch with her pediatrician through the week and decided to bring her back on February 21, 2017. Her pediatrician ordered an MRI out of an abundance of caution. The MRI revealed that Sophia had a mass on her brainstem. By 1:30 the next day we were being told that Sophia had DIPG and would only live 9-12 months with radiation. She lived less than 8 months after diagnosis. Sophia was immediately placed on steroids which ravaged her body, physically and emotionally. By the end of her journey, Sophia had been in 5 different hospitals, in 4 different states. She had 30 days of radiation, 6 months of chemotherapy, and two brain surgeries. Over the almost eight months we had left with Sophia we packed as much fun as we could into each day. But with each new day came a new symptom. DIPG stole Sophia ability by ability until she was no longer able to move or speak, while her mind and cognitive ability were left intact. At the time of her death, Sophia was completely trapped in her body.
Sophia left our arms for Jesus on October 20, 2017.
Sophia is the daughter of Angel Myers McIlrath and Josh Myers of Ocean Springs, MS. In 2017, upon the loss of their only child, the SoSo Strong Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation was born. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established to find a cure for DIPG and other pediatric brain tumors, and to identify the cause of DIPG while spreading awareness about these cancers and educate others and improving the lives of patients and their families.