La Salle coach raises awareness for daughter with leukemia

Jan 20, 2022, 5:40 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 7:41 am
La Salle NCAA women's college basketball head coach Mountain MacGillivray is shown after a game aga...

La Salle NCAA women's college basketball head coach Mountain MacGillivray is shown after a game against Drexel in Philadelphia, Nov. 17, 2021. MacGillivray is raising awareness of pediatric cancer. His 2-year-old daughter Emily was diagnosed last year with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Emily MacGillivray treated her house like an obstacle course. The toddler, a tornado of energy, could be found after a scamper sitting on counter tops.

“We never had a kid who constantly was climbing on things,” said Mountain MacGillivray, her father and the coach of La Salle’s women’s basketball team.

Around Thanksgiving, Emily looked pale and her energy sagged. The family was only mildly concerned about the 2-year-old girl; Grace MacGillivray wrote on her blog she told her husband he didn’t even need to come to the emergency room for routine tests.

“Once we got to the ER, never did cancer enter my mind,” she wrote. “Our pediatrician had told me to pack a toothbrush and a change of clothes, pretty certain that we’d have to stay the night. I did, but thought for sure we’d be home the next day, maybe with some antibiotics but probably with just a prescription for an iron supplement.”

At first, doctors thought Emily might have serious liver issues, until bloodwork revealed she had leukemia. Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing — and the most common — type of childhood cancer.

“We were pretty scared and alarmed,” Mountain said. “The hours before we got the diagnosis, that was just the worst part, not knowing what you’re going to hear.”

MacGillivray graduated from Temple, coached Philly high schools and led Quinnipiac to the NCAA Tournament before he was hired at La Salle in April 2018. He might coach his most worthwhile game Sunday when the Explorers dedicate the game to Emily — now in remission — in a “Climb with Emily” day to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.

The MacGillivrays, who celebrate their 20-year wedding anniversary this year, have eight children, ages 19 to 2 years old.

The youngest, Emily.

The photos that dot MacGillivray’s Twitter feed show his daughter smiling while she holds an egg sandwich or about to fall asleep after eating an adult serving of mac and cheese. That Emily was in the hospital during those moments make the family grateful she can share in Sunday’s game.

The MacGillivrays learned this week that Emily was in remission, making Sunday’s event more of a reason for celebration than consternation.

“Since being off chemo since Saturday, Emily has really shown an improvement in her general well-being,” Grace wrote on her blog. “She’s keeping up more with the kids, she’s laughing, smiling, and talking a lot more, and eating more like a toddler!”

Mountain MacGillivray said his daughter needs about eight more months of chemotherapy and then, “our hope for her is that she won’t even know she has leukemia by the time she’s 10.” Emily came home Dec. 29 from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and MacGillivray laughed when he noted she has become a champ at taking her medicine.

“The one thing about 2 year olds, and it’s a lesson for all of us, is they tend to live in the moment. They don’t really worry about the future,” Mountain said.

MacGillivray’s Twitter bio notes he’s a “follower of Christ” and said the ordeal only strengthened his faith because of the outpouring of support from friends, family and strangers who prayed for them, cooked meals and donated money. La Salle and MacGillivray are trying to raise money Sunday for the B+ Foundation — which honors the life of Andrew McDonough, who died at 14 from cancer — in its mission for the fight against childhood cancer. La Salle will show videos from select players talking about how cancer has affected their lives.

La Salle will wear special T-shirts for Emily and photos of her will be on display during the matchup with Richmond.

“Yes, this could be really bad for Emily down the road,” Mountain said. “Anything can go wrong. But right now, Emily is as happy as a clam. I’m not going to worry about what could go wrong because I get to see her smiling and laughing every day.”

___

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to the sidelines during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Column: Tua shouldn’t have played, but complex issues remain

There’s one thing we can all agree on: Tua Tagovailoa had no business being on the field. Not in the second half last Sunday. Not in the first half Thursday night. Beyond that, it gets a lot more complicated. The Miami Dolphins quarterback was taken away on a stretcher with a concussion during a prime-time […]
16 hours ago
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is examined during the first half of the team's NFL footb...
Associated Press

NFL’s handling of concussions questioned after Tua’s injury

The NFL’s handling of concussions has evolved dramatically from the days when players were handed smelling salts on the bench and sent back into the game. The league and the NFL Players Association have implemented extensive protocols and hired unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants (UNC) to work with team physicians at each game to diagnose concussions. Still, […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Musher Jessie Holmes takes a break from cooking his dogs a meal to nuzzle with two wheel dog...
Associated Press

Alaska reality star injured while cleaning up storm damage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A reality television star and Iditarod musher was injured this week while helping clean up storm damage along Alaska’s western coast. Jessie Holmes, who since 2015 has starred in “Life Below Zero,” a show about life in rural Alaska produced by National Geographic TV, was injured by falling debris in a […]
16 hours ago
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adrian Sampson throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first in...
Associated Press

Sampson strong again as Cubs beat Reds for 5th straight win

CHICAGO (AP) — Adrian Sampson threw seven efficient innings, Nico Hoerner drove in three runs and the Chicago Cubs won their fifth straight, 6-1 over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. Sampson (4-5) gave up one run on three hits, struck out six and walked two in his 97-pitch outing. He matched his longest start of […]
16 hours ago
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones winds up to pass in the first half of an NFL football ga...
Associated Press

Pats QB Jones ruled out vs. Packers despite practice return

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was ruled out for Sunday’s game at Green Bay despite making a surprise return to the practice field. Jones was in uniform Friday with his injured left ankle wrapped tightly as he moved gingerly during the brief portion of the workout open to media. It was his […]
16 hours ago
Charley Hull watches her tee shot on the fifth hole during the LPGA The Ascendant golf tournament i...
Associated Press

Charley Hull with 8 birdies posts 64 to take lead in Texas

THE COLONY, Texas (AP) — Charley Hull has forced herself to work a little harder on the putting and she saw it pay off Friday with eight birdies in her round of 7-under 64 to take the early 36-hole lead in The Ascendant LPGA. Hull seized control with four birdies in a six-hole stretch around […]
16 hours ago
La Salle coach raises awareness for daughter with leukemia