Chesterfield child beats cancer, inspires parents: 'Made me take a look at myself'

Posted at 5:21 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 17:21:43-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- With a spirit that can make anyone smile and energy that’s guaranteed to light up a room, 11-year-old Olivia Schoemmell never let the dim of negative news be the reason she didn't shine.

"Olivia’s very energetic," her mother Jen Schoemmell said. "[She] loves her animals. All the dogs in the world she would rescue if we could."

In May 2022, the 5th grader was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and told by doctors the disease was spreading rapidly.

"He came in and said your daughter has cancer. I said are you sure, I said can you look again and he said we have," Jen said.

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Olivia Schoemmell

Olivia was determined to beat cancer. Despite the many chemotherapy drugs, spinal taps, and long pain-filled days, her mother said Olivia never let cancer be the thief of her joy.

"She cried at first, but I think the very next words out of her mouth were I’m going to beat this," Jen said. "She was in a lot of pain, but she did whatever she could to continue to smile."

Her mother said she was glad she took Olivia to the doctor when she did.

"She woke up one morning and she had a low-grade fever," Jen said. "Her white blood cell count came back 20 times the normal number so they sent us straight to VCU."

Jen said she knew something was off when the typically energetic Olivia kept falling asleep.

"They got her immediately started on IV and the very next morning she had already started the first dose of chemo," Jen said.

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Olivia Schoemmell

Encouraged by Olivia's high spirit through all the treatment, Jen said her daughter was her inspiration.

"It made me take a look at myself and how I’ve handled things that weren’t nearly as life threatening," she said.

Almost a year and a half later, Olivia beat cancer.

In October 2022, she officially began remission and slowly but surely began getting back to her normal life.

"We are down to once-a-month clinic visits," Jen said. "Her numbers are looking better but she’s still not all the way up to normal yet, so we still have to take precautions."

Thankful for her recovery, Jen said they're now facing the challenge of large medical bills.

"When it comes to a $1.5 almost $2 million of medical cost, insurance only pays a portion," Jen said.

Wanting to help Olivia do some of the things she hoped to do but could not because of cancer and the large cost, a non-profit is asking for the community's help in making her dreams a reality.

Since she was young, Jen said her daughter has wanted to go to Disney World.

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Olivia Schoemmell

"It would mean so much, she’s been wanting to go since she was a little kid and for a long time, we just really didn’t have the finances to go," Jen said.

Through the nonprofit, the campaign was started by members of the community hoping to send a girl with the power to make anyone happy to the land where the magic is endless.

The goal is $5,000, you can donate to help get sweet Olivia to Disney World here.

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