For four days, 2-year-old Cadence Schutter will be a star. It’ll be a special moment for the young Mesa resident, and an incredible feat given the ominous start to her life.
Schutter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma via ultrasound while she was still in her mother’s womb. This rare type of cancer is seen in infants and young children and often develops in the adrenal gland; this type of neuroendocrine tumor can also develop along nervous pathways in the abdomen, chest, and neck.
Cadence spent the first months of her life in a pediatric intensive care unit. When she was 3 months old, her adrenal gland was removed in a high-risk surgery. At her last doctor’s visit, Cadence was 99 percent clear of cancer.
The surgery saved her life, and she has been in remission for the past 11 months.
“She is doing wonderful. She is active, like a normal little 2 year old,” said Cadence’s mother, Amy Schutter.
Although she is in remission, every three to six months, Cadence has to have blood work completed, along with MRIs and ultra sounds.
A pancake breakfast was hosted at Little Mesa Café last June to help raise funds for Cadence’s medical treatments, which were not covered by health insurance.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the community. We are so blessed and grateful,” Schutter said.
Since then, Schutter has been able to find health insurance through work, which covers both her and her daughter.
“When Cadence was first born I chose to take care of her full time and lost my longtime job. Recently I have been able to return to work now that Cadence is healthy and doing better, but the financial burden that whirl winded out of control I may never recover from,” she said. “Having your only child born ill takes a toll on you in all aspects. I am so fortunate and very lucky to have been blessed with a beautiful and special little girl. She has changed my life forever.”
Schutter said the most challenging part in her daughter’s battle with neuroblastoma is the fear of the unknown — knowing that Cadence’s remission could end is a cold reality.
Cadence has been invited to The Extravaganza, a beauty pageant in California that takes place at the end of this month. The event, Jan. 31 through Feb. 3, has 12 smaller pageants with two categories: beauty and glitz. Cadence will participate in natural beauty.
“As well as it being a confidence builder for Cadence, we want people to see Cadence as an example that struggles can turn into dreams come true. We would like the community to see how beautiful Cadence is inside and out,” Schutter said.
Cadence’s dresses were donated by two dressmakers: Princess Party and Pageant Dresses owner Amy Laughlin and Children’s Candy Clothing Store owner Brittany Jones. But as a single mother, Schutter cannot afford to make this trip on her own.
She is hoping for help raising money to cover the expense of travel, hotel stay, and meals. The total cost is $3,000, which does not include participation fees.
A silent donation can be made at Chase Bank, account number 3009857425. The account was set up in Cadence’s name when the pancake breakfast took place at Little Mesa Café.
To make a donation, contact Schutter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 388-5735.
• Kelly Kleber is a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at email@example.com.