NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) -- "OptZomism" and "brAvery" have been key ingredients in 11-year-old Zoe McMorran’s fight against brain cancer, along with a huge helping of community support.
Zoe, the daughter of Jen and Pat McMorran, is battling glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer that is very rare in children. She is currently undergoing treatment at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.
"Zoe is making great progress," said Pat McMorran. "We’re not out of the woods, and we know Zoe will have challenges ahead of her when she gets through this. It’s good to know she has friends, family and a community like this to help. We’re very thankful."
Although Zoe is experiencing some difficulties on her left side as a result of a stroke, she recently was thrilled to return to cheerleading, an activity she loves. She also started the sixth grade this fall at North Attleboro Middle School, alongside her twin sister and top supporter, Avery.
From the parade of friends who brought dinners to strangers who placed signs bearing the slogans "OptZomism" and "brAvery" slogans created from the twins’ names, demonstrations of support have been easy to find throughout the community.
The McMorran family said they want to let the community know how grateful they are for every helpful gesture and kind word they have received.
"I don’t think we would have been able to handle things as easily without the people who were there helping us out," McMorran said. "I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but if you’re going to have to go through it, go through it in a community like North Attleboro, where the people are waiting three-deep to help get you what you need."
McMorran still can remember the astonishment he felt the first time he drove past North Plaza, where Fresh Catch is located, seeing the word "OptZomist" on the billboard.
Support has come from all corners, including the town’s school department, which has accommodated Zoe’s treatment schedule, to 12 Occasions, which ran a family fundraiser, to the Loral Sims School of Dance, which kept Zoe involved in one of her favorite activities.
"It provides that little semblance of normalcy and helps her forget everything else she’s going through," McMorran said of the dance classes
North Attleboro Junior Football also has pitched in to give Zoe a chance to return to the sidelines as a cheerleader for the North Attleboro Stars and giving her a Courage Award for her positive attitude while fighting the disease.
McMorran noted that he didn’t grow up in town -- the family moved to North Attleboro in 2005 -- but the entire family is proud to call North Attleboro its home.
"It goes to show that growing up here isn’t a requirement to feel the outpouring that North Attleboro is known for," he said.