Family-owned and operated Little Mesa Café will host a pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8 to support and help raise funds for 2-year-old local cancer survivor Cadence Schutter.
Half of all the proceeds during the event will go to Cadence, who is no longer covered by health insurance but is still in need of treatment and testing to keep the cancer in remission.
Cadence was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a rare type of cancer seen in infants where a tumor develops in the adrenal glands — after doctors found it with an ultrasound while she was still in the womb. As a result, she spent the beginning months of her life after birth on IV in a pediatric intensive care unit.
“It was really a very somber day for me because it took me 11 years to get Cadence because of some issues that I had with not being able to carry a child to full-term,” said Cadence’s mother, Amy Schutter. “So when I finally did make it through full-term, and then they gave me the news that she was going to be born with cancer, it was really a devastating time in my life.
“But at the same time, on the other side of the coin, it was also a blessing.”
When Cadence reached 3 months old, she underwent a three-and-a-half-hour, high-risk surgery to have her adrenal gland removed. It saved her life and now she is still fighting to keep the cancer in remission.
“She is growing, at this point she is active like a normal little 2 year old,” said Schutter.
Cadence was treated at Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa and Schutter gave high praise to the surgeons and other caregivers who treated her daughter.
Schutter said that when Cadence was born, their family received insurance coverage through the State while she was a full-time student. They were insured the first 20 months of Cadence’s life, before Schutter worked a job full-time after completing school.
Schutter is actively searching for insurance coverage but hasn’t found any company willing to provide coverage because of the pre-existing complications for Cadence.
Every 3 to 6 months, Cadence has to have blood work completed, as well as get ultrasounds and MRI’s — she has an upcoming MRI in July. Cadence is sedated during the procedure because she can’t hold still long enough. All the treatments have added up and Schutter has seen great response from her community while helping prepare for the pancake breakfast.
David Stanfel, owner of the Little Mesa Café, found out about Cadence through her grandparents who are longtime, regular customers, along with Schutter, at his restaurant.
“I was talking with the grandparents, oh my lord, probably like four months ago, five months ago, and I went, ‘Oh my goodness, what’s going on?’ and got to know them a little better,” Stanfel said.
Little Mesa Café, located in Mesa at 3929 E. Main St., has been in the East Valley since 1985, and the owners pride themselves on getting involved with local causes including the Girl Scouts, Little League baseball, and golf tournaments.
Stanfel decided to try and help Cadence after hearing about her situation and says that everyone he knows has willingly helped out: employees have volunteered to come in to help, Stanfel’s product suppliers have pitched in with free items, and he has received about 25 gift certificates and other donations from local businesses.
Little Mesa Café will donate $2.50 off any combination of its pancakes, be it with “blueberry, pecans, strawberry, apple, short-stack, full-stack, with eggs, without eggs.”
Stanfel said they have been promoting the pancake breakfast with flyers throughout the community, but they are taking it farther by notifying the local media as well.
In a past event, Little Mesa Café has raised as much as $16,000 over a month’s period of time. Stanfel said he isn’t expecting that much this weekend, but added that his restaurant has very generous customers.
“It’s not going to surprise me if we make $2,500.”
The Little Mesa Café is open 365 days a year. Its regular business hours are Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Aaron, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.