Touch­downs for Phoebe

Womens Pow­der Puff game sup­ports 18-month-old’s bat­tle against eye can­cer

North Penn Life - - FRONT PAGE - By Jennifer Con­nor jcon­nor@21st-cen­tu­ry­

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. TheLe­

Above, Kelly Len­skold scores a touch­down dur­ing the Lemon Bowl Ladies Pow­der Puff Football tour­na­ment at the Buck­sMont In­door

Sports Cen­ter in Hat­field.

Pho­tos by Mark C. Pso­ras

Right, Jenny Lee holds her daugh­ter, Phoebe,

as they watch some of the tour­na­ment.

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