USM’s women’s basketball coach battling cancer

Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 at 9:30 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi women's basketball team will be without its long-time coach as she battles cancer.

Coach Joye Lee-McNelis announced in a release from the university that she would be taking a leave of absence to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

McNelis was not on the sidelines this past Thursday for USM's win over the University of Texas-San Antonio for what was described as "personal health reasons." She returned for the Lady Eagles' victory Saturday over the University of Texas-El Paso.

Tuesday's release said Lee-McNelis was hospitalized with chest discomfort last week, and tests revealed a small mass in the upper lobe of her left lung. She was diagnosed with contained Adenocarcinoma.

About 40 percent of lung cancers are adenocarcinomas and is more common in women than men.

Lee-McNelis will undergo further testing and is expected to have surgery as soon as possible.

She will not travel with her team when they travel to Florida for Conference USA games at Florida International University at 6 p.m. Thursday and Florida Atlantic University at 4 p.m. Saturday.

First-year USM assistant coach Kiley Hill, who was on the sidelines in the Lady Eagles' win over UTSA, will serve as interim head coach in Lee-McNelis' absence.

"I am really proud of how this team has over achieved this year and how they'd fought extremely hard," Lee-McNelis said. "In return, I will have the same fight as I face this adversity over the next few weeks. I know that God is in control and, with the prayers of many, good things will come. I have the utmost confidence in Coach Kiley Hill and my staff and know they will lead this team in a way that would make all of our Southern Miss fans proud. Our community is blessed to have great medical resources and people who will help in any way possible."

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