The University of Southern Mississippi women’s basketball coach Joye Lee-McNelis has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Lee-McNelis defeated adenocarcinoma of the lungs in 2017. She made the announcement about this new diagnosis Saturday.
“I was really, really sick with COVID, and so that’s what honestly we thought it was,” Lee-McNelis told The Student Printz, USM’s student newspaper. “And then, I went in for my three-month checkup from having lung cancer previously and they found there was fluid in the pleural area of my lung, which is the lining of my lungs. It had tripled with COVID.”
Lee-McNelis has been the USM Golden Eagles women’s basketball head coach since 2004 where she has a 263-239 head coaching record. She also played for USM in the 1980s and was inducted in the Southern Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Although Lee-McNelis has to battle this deadly disease, she is still committed to leading her team.
“People ask me am I going to coach. Yeah, because you know what? I made a commitment to this university,” she said. “I love this university. I played here, and my goal to come here was to give everything I’ve got to be able to try to get us to an NCAA Tournament and we’ve not been able to do that. We’ve been to NIT, but we’ve got to get there. It may not be this year, but we’ve got to be able to continue to fight that fight, and I want to make this university proud. The last thing I ever want to do is disappoint somebody that gave me an opportunity.”
USM is set to play Mid-Tennessee State in an away game Friday at 6 p.m. It is not certain if Lee-McNelis will be in attendance.
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