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‘Ready to be normal again’

A lot of items, keepsakes and memories can accumulate over ayear and packing them up is never fun. However, what Maggie Cupitand family will not be bringing home with them from Memphis, Tenn.is cancer.

After about a year at the Target House in Memphis, a housingdevelopment for patients undergoing treatment at St. JudeChildren’s Research Hospital, Cupit, her mother and sister Flynnwill be returning to Brookhaven Thursday and will be welcomed bythe community through a series of events.

“When we got here we thought we might be through by Christmas,”said Ellie Phillips, Cupit’s mom.

In May, Cupit, a chemisty major at Rhodes College in Memphis,was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, andbecame a patient at St. Jude after getting an MRI for what shethought was torn cartilage in her knee.

Since first being diagnosed, the journey has been long. The19-year-old Brookhaven native underwent several rounds ofchemotherapy, surgery in September to remove her tibia and toinstall a metal knee replacement, physical therapy and surgeryagain in March to remove an infection in her leg.

“We’re ready to be normal again,” said Phillips. “Get back toour lives.”

When returning to their lives in Brookhaven on Thursday, thetrip for Cupit and her family will be a unique one as police escortthem down Brookway Boulevard. A crowd is expected to gather withsigns and enthusiasm around 4 p.m. to celebrate their arrival.

“I just think Brookhaven’s missed her,” said Michele Ratliff,who is helping organize Thursday’s welcoming committee. “I thinkshe’d feel really good seeing a bunch of people standing therewelcoming her home.”

Cupit’s homecoming will not end with cheering fans and waves onBrookway Boulevard.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. in the ministry center at First UnitedMethodist Church, a party will be held for the community, Cupit andher family to enjoy refreshments and to catch up on a year’s worthof events.

“Nobody could believe that happened to Maggie,” said BeckyGreen, party organizer and family friend. “I think so many peoplewanted to be a part of the struggle, and I wanted them to be a partof the celebration, too.”

While receiving treatment in Memphis, Phillips’ family has beendivided and getting the family whole again is something she saidshe is looking forward to.

“We’ve kind of been split up,” said Phillips. “Having everybodyback together again in the same house will be the best part.”

Cupit was an active member in the Brookhaven community and astandout student at Brookhaven High School. When the area learnedof her battle with cancer, she has since been on the minds oflocals everywhere.

“People I don’t even know have prayed for her, sent cards; it’sbeen so nice,” said Phillips. “That’s so helpful when you’re goingthrough something like this, to know you have so much support.”