Monday, January 31, 2011

So Much to Be Grateful for!!

There is so much to be grateful for! My mind is racing with so many thoughts and emotions. The past month has been a whirlwind, with sad and happy moments mixed together. There have been tears shed, but so much joy as we have watched Jessica make huge improvements! There have been many lessons learned with the knowledge that there are many more lessons to be learned. There is definitely a new perspective on the blessing of life. And then there is just the LOVE. The LOVE felt and so freely shared by others. Our family has been overwhelmed by all of the love and support we have been given by our family and friends and even people that we don't know! Thank you to all of you for supporting us on this journey with Jessica. We can't help but be filled with Faith and Hope because of the love we feel from everyone!

Jessica and Caleb, Best Friends Forever!
Through difficult times there is always peace and comfort to be found in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowledge that they know us individually and understand perfectly what we are going through and that they will provide the strength we need. Their plan is perfect even though it may not seem to be at times. Our Saviors arms are always outstretched. This picture shared with us by good friends has brought much needed comfort and peace! It looks so much like our sweet Jessica. We know that the Saviors arms and His angels are around her always!

Jessica's smile and those eyes tell it all. She has a love for life. She is strong and she will fight this cancer hard! She is a wonderful example to us all. There are other amazing little fighters that we have met at primarys, have read about, and even close friends that we know. Children are so strong! They are a strength to each other and to all of us. We have felt so much love & support from these other children and their families!

What would we do without our families! Annalise (9), Caleb (3), Alyson (7), and Jessica (4). Just hanging out before bed. Annalise & Alyson had set up "rotations" for them to play together. Jessica's brothers and sisters are a huge strength to her. Our family has been amazing! Jessica's grandparents, her aunts & uncles, her cousins, and even great aunts & uncles have been so wonderful! We would not have made it through the past month without the help of our family!

A special thank you to Mandi Gubler for starting this blog. I never would have thought to do something like this and it has been a wonderful way to share Jessica's experience with others. And also a great way for me to keep a journal! To my sisters for posting for me and keeping things up to date, thank you. I love you all! How grateful I am for a close family. A family that sticks together no matter what! I hope that I can now keep up on the blog! Thank you to all of those who have worked so hard and spent so much time in fundraising efforts for Jessica. That was something that I struggled with at first, but please know how much it means to our family! For all of the packages and notes, words of encouragement and hope, visits to the hospital, thank you! Thank you just doesn't seem to cut it, but know that we love you all!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update 1/25

Jessica must have had a lot of energy she needed to release after leaving PCMC. The day she left the hospital this is the game she wanted to play. She pedaled her little heart out for quite some time.

Jessica and her cousin Kate who was so excited to finally get to see her.

Jessica has been doing great being back at home. She is eating better and getting some of her energy back. Chandra was actually quite happy when Jessica and Caleb had a little sibling fight, it made things seem a little more back to normal. :) Jessica has a home health nurse that comes to their house a few times a week to help check Jessica and make sure her vitals, etc. are what they need to be. During Chemo they have to be extra careful at checking for fevers. Anytime a fever lasts over an hour they need to get to the hospital so the doctors can find the cause. This is what happened yesterday. Jessica seemed fine, but the fever didn't go away. After talking to PCMC, the doctors in St.George admitted her to the hospital where she will be monitored for two days.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jessica is HOME!

Jessica, Chandra and Jacob arrived home this evening! It is so exciting to see the Schmitt family reunited in their home in St. George. Jessica's immune system is very weak due to the chemotherapy. It will be very critical for Chandra and Cody to keep germs away from their home. You all know how welcoming Chandra and Cody are. It will be an adjustment for them not to be able to have visitors. Chandra has been trained to take care of Jessica's needs. Between PICC line care, feeding tube care and medication administration, Chandra will be very busy.

On the drive home.

Finally home!

(Pictures from Aunt Lydia's phone.)


Red Robin

The Red Robin fundraiser was a lot of fun! So many people came out to eat great food in support of Jessica. The turn out was truly amazing. Thanks to all who came and especially thanks to Jan Harmon for getting this event rolling.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Jessica has loved having her Aunt Sara's ipad and her Grandma's itouch! It has kept her very entertained!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update 1/18

Jessica just continues to improve. Yesterday she wanted to get dressed in "real" clothes and walk down to the hospital play room. This was a huge step! It really helps when there aren't so many tubes coming in and out of her little body. She started eating a little bit better, but with the new chemo she is more nauseous and doesn't really want to eat anything anymore. Today they are going to put a small feeding tube back in. She started the strong doses of chemo yesterday and so she has to be monitored in the hospital for 4 days. After that they are hoping to come home. After a month in the hospital, it will be so nice to see Jessica, Chandra and Jacob in their own home! Jessica will need to be at PCMC every three weeks for this chemo. However, if everything goes well with the treatments they will be home in between! The doctors said they will continue with this chemo until it is time to remove the tumor. When the tumor is out they will reassess what the next step will be. Even with all the throwing up and nausea, Jessica continues to be in good spirits!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Update 1/14

Jessica is now breathing on her own! When she was first in the PICU she talked a lot about food. However, with all the tubes, medicine, chemo, etc. she hasn't wanted anything to eat since being on the 4th floor. Chandra always eats in front of her to try and get her excited to eat and it finally paid off. Yesterday she asked Chandra for one of the chips she was eating and she also ate part of an orange. We are hoping soon she wants to eat all that good food she was longing for in the PICU! Jessica's condition has definitely perplexed many of the doctors. She is not a typical Wilms Tumor patient, so it is still taking time for the doctors to come up with an exact treatment plan. As of yesterday, they are still planning on removing the tumor in 6 more weeks. Also, heavier doses of chemo will be administered the first of next week. Initially they were going to hold off the chemo until her chest tubes were out, but they have decided not to wait.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Update 1/10

Great News! Today Jessica was moved from the PICU to the 4th floor. Her breathing has really improved and we hope it stays that way. Jessica was more than excited to finally get to be with her baby brother Jacob again. Chandra said she had the biggest, most beautiful smile when she saw Jacob!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Yard Sale/Bake Sale

The yard sale was a HUGE success! Thank you to everyone who donated and shopped. There were so many friends of the Schmitt's that came out to help. While at the yard sale, you could feel the love everyone has for Jessica and her family. It was incredible seeing everyone come together in support of Jessica. The Schmitt's are overwhelmed with the amount of love and support they are receiving. A special thanks to Mary, Kelton, Ann and John for spear heading this special fundraiser. Thank you also to Funny Face Photography for taking the following pictures.

Please check out this amazing video made by Mike Green. Jessica Schmitt Fundraiser

Jessica's good friend, Isaac Lloyd, selling his gum balls.

Chandra's good friend, Mary Lloyd, the woman in charge.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Update 1/8

Just a quick update on Jessica...She is still in the PICU, but her breathing has really improved and the 4th floor is looking very close! Today they had to reinsert the drainage tube into her cancerous lung. It was not draining the fluid and they are hoping that with it properly draining she will be more comfortable. They did another ct scan and although the tumor is responding to current treatments, due to the size of the tumor, the oncologist has decided to start treating Jessica with a more aggressive type of chemotherapy. The tumor in her lungs is the size of an orange. The main tumor in her kidney is much bigger. The type of chemotherapy they are adding is much stronger and will mean more frequent visits and monitoring at PCMC. Chandra and Cody are positive and feel really good about this new treatment. Cody and the kids are up from St.George and they were all thrilled to be reunited with their Mom, Jessica, and Jacob.

My sisters in St.George told me the fundraiser/yard sale was a huge success! They will be posting pictures soon. It is amazing to see all of the people coming together for sweet Jessica.

Amelia (Chandra's sister)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Update 1/6

Jessica was having a little too much fun with her Aunt Lydia (Chandra's sister) last night. They had a picture session with all of Jessica's stuffed animals. Lydia spent the night with her and did a great job at keeping her entertained! As you know, Jessica has been unable to drink or eat real food in the PICU and she loves to talk about the food she will eat when she can. Jessica told Lydia a few more things she just loves..."Lydia, did you know I love orange juice, sprite and rootbeer?" After this conversation we were all thrilled when they started introducing liquids into her diet today. It won't be long before she can drink all the oj, sprite and rootbeer she can handle!

Jessica remains stable in the PICU. Her little body is still working too hard when she breaths, so she continues getting help so her body can relax and start working normal again. In the next few days the doctors hope to slowly take her off most of the breathing help she is getting. We hope and pray this happens sooner than later.

The kids in St.George are doing great and are happy to be back at school. They especially love having their Grandma Schmitt with them. They say they want her to live with them forever!

Amelia (Chandra's sister)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Update 1/5

Yesterday Jessica wasn't too excited to have another procedure to insert tubes in her lungs. She kept asking to do puzzles instead. Chandra promised she could do her puzzles right when the doctors were done. After the tubes were inserted and Jessica was coming out of the sedation Chandra told her they could go back to her room and do puzzles. Before they left the recovery room Chandra and the doctors were talking and Jessica piped in, "Hey Guys, did you know I'm really good at puzzles?" It is so sweet to hear about her personality shining through even the tough times. The tube insertion was successful and 1/2 a liter of fluid was immediately drained from her lungs.

She has been very happy today and even smiled for a few pictures. With all the tubes and machines you will have to look closely for her beautiful smile. She was practicing her breathing with a pinwheel and showing off her newly painted fingernails.

Amelia (Chandra's Sister)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Update 1/4

Yesterday Jessica had a pretty good day. She was talking, sitting up and her respiratory problems looked much improved. They actually took the CPAP machine off for a few hours and it was such a blessing because at this time her sisters and Caleb came to say goodbye before leaving for St.George. The hospital made an exception so the kids could actually go into Jessica's room and see her. She looked much better without being hooked up to the big machine and Jessica was so excited to give Annalise and Alyson necklaces she had for them and a car for Caleb. She was able to hug them all goodbye--it was such a positive experience for all of them. Chandra and Cody felt so good about the meeting and Annalise and Alyson couldn't believe that Jessica hugged them and gave them a necklace.

However, last night Jessica had a rough night and they had to put the CPAP machine back on. Today she is having even more respiratory problems. They are going to insert drainage tubes into both lungs. They will have to have the help of a radiologist to insert the tube into the cancerous lung. The fluid around her lungs just doesn't seem to go away. They will be doing an ultrasound some time today to take a better look at what is going on. They are also trying to better manage her pain. She is such a tough little girl and many times she doesn't let on how much pain she really is suffering. She also received her second dose of chemotherapy yesterday.

Even with these setbacks everyone remains very positive and Jessica is working hard and doing everything she is asked so she can get back up to her "other room" (the 4th floor). Chandra and Cody are continually grateful for all of the love and support from family, friends and even people they don't know who are keeping Jessica in their thoughts and prayers.

Amelia (Chandra's sister)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Update 1/1

The oncologist informed Chandra and Cody this morning that the CT scan showed that the nodules on Jessica's lungs had decreased dramatically. This is great news! The chemotherapy is doing it's job! The tube that was inserted in Jessica's side is still there draining fluid. This tube has been causing Jessica a lot of discomfort. Hopefullly the tube can be removed soon. It is so hard to see Jessica in any pain but it is through these procedures that Jessica will recover more quickly. It is crazy to think that only 2 weeks ago Jessica was leading a normal 4 year old's life. We know she must have been experiencing some discomfort but was so tough she never said a word. The toughness Jessica has always had will definitely help her get through the next few months.

With school starting back up on Tuesday, there will be a lot of changes in the Schmitt family's routine. Grandma Schmitt (Cody's mom) will head to St. George on Monday with Cody, Annalise, Alyson and Caleb. Cody will go back to work on Tuesday and Annalise and Alyson will be back at school on Tuesday. Grandma Chipman (Chandra and I's mom) will stay in Salt Lake with Chandra, Jacob and Jessica. Our mom teaches 5th grade in St. George but has arranged a sub for the time being. Our sister Lydia will also be headed to Salt Lake on Sunday or Monday. She will be there to help with Jessica and Jacob. Lydia is a RN at Dixie Regional Hospital in St. George and has arranged her work schedule so that she can help. It is at times like these that having a big supportive family is such a blessing. Chandra is the oldest of 8 kids. When I say big family, I mean it :). She has always been an amazing sister and such a great example to all of us siblings. We were also more than thrilled when Cody became part of the family. Together they make a perfect team and are raising some great kids. We love them and are so grateful for their strength at this difficult time, it is an incredible example for all of us.

Sara (Chandra's sister)