IOWA -- Hearing that your child has cancer has got to be one of the hardest things for a parent to deal with. Now imagine hearing that while deployed overseas thousands of miles away.
That's exactly what happened to Waukee Staff Sergeant Ashley Schultz. Her world was flipped upside down when she found out her 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with T Cell Leukemia.
Staff Sergeant Schultz is a born-and-raised Iowan, living in Waukee with her two kids, 12-year-old Elizabeth and 5-year-old Gunner. That is until she was deployed for the second time with the Iowa National Guard.
While working overseas, her daughter Elizabeth stayed with her father in Virginia, but started feeling sick just last week.
“She actually ended up fainting on Wednesday and so they took her to the doctor on Thursday. They did a blood draw while they were there,” SSG Schultz said.
Doctors found her immune system was basically failing. The cause: T Cell Leukemia.
“So there's a little bit of guilt with being deployed, obviously, but then when you find out something like this you are helpless and there's nothing you can do,” SSG Schultz said.
Less than an hour after getting the news, SSG Schultz’s emergency leave was granted. She flew with just a single backpack to Virginia.
“I don't have any family here in Virginia, so for the first couple of nights I slept here in a hospital bed and then last night I got to finally got to sleep in a queen size bed for the first time in six months,” SSG Schultz said.
To help, friends back home in Iowa are donating hotel points and set up a GoFundMe page that is taking off like they never could have imagined.
“There was a thousand dollar anonymous donation. I mean, the amount of support that has come from the community, not only friends and family, but there's people on there that I don't know. It's been absolutely incredible,” SSG Schultz said.
In less than 24 hours they exceeded their $5,000 goal. Now they are up to over $8,500, all to help a young girl who instead of celebrating her 13th birthday on Wednesday, is preparing herself for the treatment to come.
“This isn't happening, and then you get a port in your body that stays for two years, and then you find out you are going to lose your hair, and it's like, OK this is happening,” Elizabeth Schultz said.
“Like she said you never in a million years think this is going to happen to your family, but it does and you just want to do everything you can,” SSG Schultz said.
“Don't make me cry,” Elizabeth said back.
SSG Schultz’s emergency leave is only good for two weeks, but she says they are making the most of it and trying to plan something special for Elizabeth's birthday, even though she can't leave the hospital.
If you would like to donate to Elizabeth’s Go Fund Me Page Click Here.