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Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

The St. Philip Neri community rallied around Jacob Schwaab who recently was diagnosed with leukemia.

When 11-year-old Jacob Schwaab was diagnosed with leukemia last month, he admits he was a little scared.

“I didn’t think it was going to turn out well. But it did,” he said.

Jacob, a fifth grader at St. Philip Neri School in Linthicum, recently went through about a month of chemotherapy and he and his family are waiting to find out what the next steps will be.

The month has been rough on his family, including his mother Chris Schwaab, who works as a secretary at St. Philip Neri.

“Not only is your child sick and you’re terrified, [but] you don’t know the future,” she said. “They can’t decide what the next treatment is until they find out what the last treatment did.”

When the St. Philip Neri community learned about Jacob’s diagnosis, they made sure they showed the family their support.

“The community has really rallied around them,” said Sharon Gilbert, a St. Philip Neri parent.

Gilbert organized a fundraiser through Alex’s Lemonade Stand, selling lemonade, cupcakes and lemons with peppermint sticks (commonly referred to as "lemon sticks") Monday to raise money for pediatric cancer research and the Schwaab family.

“I feel so blessed because so many people care. So many people who we don’t even know,” Chris Schwaab said. “It’s just amazing, strange and surreal…So we just have to step back and be thankful.”

Principal Shirley Wise also said she was pleased that the school community was being so supportive of Jacob and his family.

“All of this came from the parents. They came to me and said ‘Can we have a Jake Schwaab Day?’” Wise said. “We can’t magically make him well, but we can help make it a little easier—make lemonade out of lemons.”

Jacob had been out of school for the past few weeks and it wasn’t clear whether or not he would be able to attend the fundraiser, but his doctors determined he was well enough to spend a few hours at the school.

“It’s really great to be here,” he said, adding that only a few of his friends knew he would be there. “I surprised most of my friends.”

Jacob’s father, Craig Schwaab, said he was amazed at how well his son’s been handling his diagnosis and treatment.

“Children handle it better than adults do. With all the sticks and pokes, he’s handling it very well,” he said.

Jacob, who Wise said always seems to have a positive outlook on things, said he felt tired Monday and that his bones were achy.

“But I feel pretty good about things,” he said.

Cherie lemin May 26, 2011 at 11:51 AM
I can totally understand what the Schwaab's are going through and feeling. My son was diagnosed in 2008 with ALL and thankfully has done very well with his treatment. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

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