Touchdowns for Phoebe
Womens Powder Puff game supports 18-month-old’s battle against eye cancer
Bonding for nearly five years behind the pharmacy counter at Lansdale’s CVS, Jenny Lee and Jeff Schuh became unlikely friends. They shared many details about their lives, including the inability of Schuh’s wife, Jacky, to have a child.
A little more than two years ago, Lee and Jacky both discovered they were pregnant.
“We were told we couldn’t have kids,” Schuh said. “It was a miracle.”
Zachary Schuh, now 20 months old, was born first. Then, two months later, Lee gave birth to Phoebe.
Things were going well for both families until about five months ago when Lee noticed a glare in Phoebe’s eye.
“In a certain lighting you could almost see through her eye,” Lee said.
After seeing a specialist, little Phoebe was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, or cancer in her left eye, and Lee left her job to take care of her daughter.
“Due to how close in age our children are, Phoebe’s diagnosis really hit me,” Schuh said. “Jenny is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and we just wanted to do something to help her and her family.”
Four years ago, Schuh’s wife, Jacky Maleno, helped to launch the successful Lemon Bowl, a flag football tournament for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, so she already had the foundation and reach to fundraise to fight childhood cancer.
The team set to work and quickly put together the July 20 event, turning it into a girls-only (Powder Puff) tournament. Five teams competed throughout the day at BucksMont Indoor Sports Center, all for Phoebe.
“It’s just overwhelming to see all of these people here supporting us,” Lee said. "When Jeff first called, I , told him even if it doesn’t happen, just the thought of this warms my heart.”
Lee describes her life for the past five months as "overbearing," especially since her father was diagnosed with lung cancer just a month before Phoebe’s diagnosis.
Many people have stepped up to help her, she said, from family to friends to members of her church.
“I just feel so blessed,” Lee said. “My faith gets me through.”
According to Lee, the journey to get Phoebe accurate treatment was not easy. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia first referred her to Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia after discovering a mass on Phoebe’s eye.
“I had a horrific experience there,” Lee said. “The specialist delivered the news in such an inconsiderate and cold way — simply stating the entire eye would need to be removed.”
This experience prompted Lee to reach out to friends and find a more suitable treatment. In her search, she discovered Dr. David Abramson at the Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center in New York City.
According to Lee, former NBA star Derek Fisher flies with his daughter from LA to get a minimally invasive chemotherapy, allowing the recipient to keep his or her eye.
Phoebe has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy, and depending on the results of the last treatment, may be done for now. Lee said for the first day after treatment, Phoebe has nausea and vomiting, then two hours later she’ll be playing with her two older brothers.
“In a way, it’s a blessing she’s so young and can’t fully register what is happening,” Lee said. “I hope to spread awareness about early detection.”
Lee said besides noticing the translucent glare in the eye, another way to tell is if you take a picture of your child and they don’t have a red eye. Money raised through the July 20 Powder Puff tournament will help the Lee family pay medical bills and get by. To donate to help Phoebe and her family, visit www. TheLemonBowl.org.
Above, Kelly Lenskold scores a touchdown during the Lemon Bowl Ladies Powder Puff Football tournament at the BucksMont Indoor
Sports Center in Hatfield.
Right, Jenny Lee holds her daughter, Phoebe,
as they watch some of the tournament.