Toronto

'Super-Girl' Jadyn Schill, 13, won't let cancer define her

Jadyn Schill, 13, from Mount Albert, Ont., has been battling a rare form of brain cancer for most of her young life. This year she was diagnosed with a new recurrence, making it her seventh fight with the disease, but she's certain that she can beat it again.

Jadyn Schill may be the most radiated child in Canada and possibly the most positive one

Around SickKids, Jadyn Schill is known as Super Girl. With good reason. The 13-year-old from Mount Albert was first diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when she was 5. She's now battled the disease seven times. The CBC's Shannon Martin tells her story. 3:28

In a room on the eighth floor of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, bright pink sheets line the bed where Jadyn Schill and her friend sit making bracelets and taking selfies. It's a familiar setting for the girl who's become known in these halls as "Super-Girl."

In 2013, Sick Kids dubbed Jadyn the most radiated child in Canada, having received a total of 123 doses of radiation as part of her treatment for cancer. That's the maximum anyone is allowed for life.

"People started calling me "Super-Girl" because I never really gave up," Jadyn told CBC News.

13 year-old Jadyn Schill has been battling Ependymoma, a rare brain cancer, since she was five. (CBC)
Now 13 years old, the girl from Mount Albert — a small town an hour north of Toronto — has been diagnosed with a new recurrence of her brain cancer Ependymoma, making it her seventh fight with the disease.

She was first diagnosed when she was five.

"She doesn't really remember not having cancer. This has been her entire life," said her mother, Christie Schill.

No other options

Schill said she first took Jadyn to the hospital in 2008 after she lost movement in the left side of her face. Doctors originally diagnosed her with Bell's Palsy, but her mom had a feeling that something wasn't right. After taking her daughter for an MRI, a tumour was discovered.

Ever since then, Jadyn's had a mixture of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but those treatments are no longer an option.

Jadyn and her mother Christie photographed together at Sick Kids before she has surgery to remove a tumour in January 2013. (Christie Schill)
"Nobody wants to see their kid suffer," her mother said. "It's hard, so hard."

Even with her options dwindling, Jadyn is keeping an active and busy schedule. As a Sick Kids patient ambassador, she's constantly taking part in community events and trying to raise awareness for the cause.

"It's important to raise awareness and funding so that one day no child will have to go through what I've gone through," Jadyn said

This past May was her eighth year participating in Meagan's Walk — a community walk that finishes with thousands of participants holding hands to form a giant hug around Sick Kids hospital.

She has also participated in and has been a guest speaker at events such as the CAA Golf Tournament for Sick Kids, Bike for Tykes and her favourite, the Rally for Kids Cancer, where she said she met her "best friend" Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy.
Jadyn has had five invasive brain surgeries to remove tumours. (Christie Schill)
This Saturday she'll also be at the Boat Rally for Kids Cancer in Muskoka, a scavenger hunt by boat that sees celebrity guests visit various stations on shore. She'll be greeting the boats with actor Billy Baldwin.

However, for Jadyn participating means more than simply raising awareness. She said she hopes that her experiences, both the struggles and the triumphs, will inspire other children to keep up the fight.

"When you think you're in the worst times, think what you have and what you don't have," she said. "There's always a positive side.

"My positive side is that there's still more options. It's not like the end of the world."

'Spectacular' attitude

Jadyn and Kim Coates from the show Sons of Anarchy have become good friends since meeting at the Car Rally for Sick Kids a few years ago. (Christie Schill)
Jadyn's pediatric neuro-oncologist Dr. Eric Bouffet said that her attitude is "spectacular" and "unusual" for a patient that's been through what she has.

He said that even after her last experimental trial failed, she remained just as hopeful as always.

"We met a few weeks ago to discuss the result of the last treatment … and rather than just having a sort of depressive mood, when we told her we had a new treatment she was jumping," he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jadyn got the go-ahead to begin that new treatment. Bouffet said she's the first child in the world to try a new experimental drug that connects itself to cancer cells, "strangles" and "hopefully kills them."

According to SickKids, Jadyn is the most radiated child in Canada. A few months ago she was diagnosed with brain cancer, her seventh fight with the disease. She's currently trying experimental treatments. 0:55
"She's a believer and she makes everybody believe that it's going to work," he said.

With no doubts that she can beat cancer again this time, Jadyn is already making plans for the future.

"Once I'm like cancer-free, I just want to go to school like a normal kid and try to get back into sports."