A reward worth fighting for

Schumacher overcomes cancer, becomes dairy princess

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PLAINVIEW, Minn. − At the age of 19, Jordyn Schumacher used encouragement from her late grandfather, Gary, to overcome Hodgkin lymphoma this past year.
“When I went under for my bone marrow biopsy, he appeared to me in a dream, and I felt a hand grab my hand and it was him,” Schumacher said. “He was talking and said, ‘You’ll be OK through this process. Don’t worry. You’ll be cured one day, and everything will work out. I’m right here, even though you can’t see me. I am always here with you.’”
Schumacher’s grandfather passed away from complications of brain cancer in 2018.
We were really close when I was growing up,” Schumacher said. “He had a huge passion for the dairy industry, and I learned my passion for the dairy community from him and always looked up to him. When he passed, I was very sad, and I told him that I would take over the dairy farm and continue on.”
Schumacher’s family − parents, Chad and Amy, and siblings, Ashlyn and Jace − milk 140 cows with two Lely robots in Wabasha County near Plainview.
In 2021, Schumacher’s world changed.
On the farm, Schumacher did everything from scraping the alleyways, cleaning and bedding stalls, feeding calves, and helping with hauling hay and manure. She was a first-year student attending Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa, studying dairy science and agriculture business, milking cows in a step-up parlor for another dairy farm and working at a gas station when she knew something was wrong.
“That summer, I wasn’t feeling the best,” Schumacher said. “I was tired and rundown which is unusual for me because I was always really busy and working three jobs. Then, I went to school in the fall and wasn’t feeling myself. I had fevers, night sweats and a rash.”
One morning while getting ready for school, she woke up to find a golf ball-sized lymph node on her collarbone.
“The doctors and nurses always told me that if I ever got a swollen lymph node that it was something serious,” Schumacher said.
The next day, Schumacher went into Mayo Clinic in Rochester and had an ultrasound and a biopsy done.
A week later, at the beginning of November 2021, the hospital called and confirmed she had Hodgkin lymphoma stage 4, a cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system.
“I was nervous and scared because I didn’t know a whole lot about Hodgkin lymphoma at 18 years old,” Schumacher said. “The doctors went through the process of explaining everything to me about what it was and that there was a 90% curable rate.”
Then, the doctors took a PET scan to figure out where the cancer was and found it was in both sides of her neck, parts of her chest and back, stomach and all over her spleen.
“It wasn’t in my bone marrow which we were glad about, so I didn’t have to get a bone marrow transplant,” Schumacher said.
 However, Schumacher had to move home, distance herself and start chemotherapy treatments to reduce the cancer.
“I was mostly scared of my classes because I love school and like going to school, so I was kind of disappointed to not be able to attend school in person,” Schumacher said. 
Luckily, Schumacher’s teachers worked with her from day one, and she was considered a full-time student and made the dean’s list all of her first year. At the same time, she underwent 12 chemotherapy treatments from November 2021 to May.
“I am a positive person, so this was mentally harder than anything because I was not living life like a normal 18-year-old,” Schumacher said. “I was losing my hair, doing chemotherapy, quarantining and staying alone. I am a fighter; I look at a challenge and I don’t let it back me down. I knew that I was going to get through this no matter what or how long it took.”
After the first chemotherapy treatment, the lymph node on her collarbone went away, and Schumacher continued to have treatments every other week.
“They knew right away that my chemotherapy treatments were working and helping me,” Schumacher said. “I never got nauseous. I was blessed and handled it very well. I got some neuropathy or numbness in my fingertips, lost my hair and was tired. It took me about three to four days after I got chemotherapy treatments to feel back to normal.”
Schumacher had to slow down the amount of physical work she did on the farm, while her dad and siblings picked up for her. Despite all that, she kept herself busy.
“I lost my muscles really fast so I couldn’t move gates or scrape anymore, but I’ve been told I’m a really good cleaning lady,” Schumacher said. “So, I came to clean the barn and office. I like being busy; I am not one to sit around.”
By middle of January, Schumacher’s scan showed no cancer, and come May, she had her last treatment. Then, Schumacher rang the bell.
“It was probably my hardest one because I had chemotherapy and two days after I had COVID-19 and was really sick,” Schumacher said. “But I was really excited to ring the bell, post it on Facebook and hear everyone’s comments about finishing up.”
In the beginning of June, Schumacher had a scan which showed no sign of cancer. She will continue to have scans and blood tests every three months for the next two years. Once she is past two years in remission, she is considered cancer free. 
Schumacher was never alone on this journey as she had her community supporting her.
“We put one post on Facebook when I was diagnosed, and the comments flooded in and my phone was blowing up with calls and texts,” Schumacher said.
The family hosted a benefit in January and raised enough money to pay for all of her cancer treatments.
“It was humbling because every person who walked through that door, I knew them and they knew me,” Schumacher said. “You don’t realize how many people you know and how many love and support you until they are all right there in one room.”
On April 3, Schumacher made an even bigger impact on the community and became Wabasha County’s dairy princess after serving on the court for four years.
“It was my dream to be county princess, and growing up, I worked really hard on my family’s dairy and in the dairy community to be involved,” Schumacher said. “It felt really cool this year to be crowned dairy princess after going through the hard things that I have the past couple months. It was cool to see that I can be dairy princess at the end of all this.”
With her busy summer ahead, Schumacher looks forward to getting back to a normal life, working her internship at Northern Valley Livestock Services in Plainview, spending time with friends and sharing her story as a dairy princess.
“Nowadays, it’s pretty cool because people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re the farm girl that recovered from cancer and now you are our county dairy princess,’” Schumacher said. “I want to show others that you can keep fighting and pushing through hard times because you will have huge rewards at the end of all this.”

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