NEWS | June 17, 2013

Father's brain tumor treatment sparks essay, then college scholarship

Sacramento State student awarded funds on Father's Day at cancer center


A Sacramento-area college student received a $2,500 college scholarship on Sunday, June 16, for an essay detailing her family’s experience following her father’s brain tumor diagnosis and treatment.

Kimberly Schmidt Kimberly Schmidt

After being selected from hundreds of applicants, Kimberly Schmidt, a 20-year-old Sacramento State senior, was honored at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center by 23 athletes who are running across the country to raise funds for cancer programs — including the scholarship program — that benefit adolescents and young adults. The runners are part of 4K for Cancer, one of several fundraising events of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults based in Columbia, Md.

“What sticks out in Kimberly’s essay was her persistence and will to keep fighting even with all the curve balls thrown her way,” said Steve Hersey, program manager of 4K for Cancer and a member of the scholarship committee. “Her optimism is a strong theme throughout her essay.”

Bobby Schmidt was 54 in 2006 when he experienced a seizure while camping with his family at Medicine Lake in the Cascade Range. Because the remote area was a two-hour drive from the nearest hospital, he was taken by helicopter to a hospital. Three days later he was diagnosed with an inoperable oligoastroytoma, a slow-growing brain tumor. Mr. Schmidt was transferred to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he underwent 18 months of chemotherapy.

Kimberly and Bob Schmidt © UC Regents
Bobby Schmidt, a cancer patient at UC Davis, and his daughter, Kimberly.

Because of frequent seizures, he suddenly needed rides to his job and to his regular chemotherapy appointments. Everyone in the family pitched in to keep the household running smoothly, including Kimberly, then a freshman at Folsom High School.

“From that day on, anything I needed to do, she was going to take care to make sure it got done,” Bobby Schmidt said of his daughter. “She was constantly trying to make sure everything was OK. She picked up the house. And if the lawn needed mowing, she would go out and cut it.”  

Throughout the course of her father’s treatment, Kimberly maintained top grades, played several instruments, excelled at portrait drawing, participated in the jazz and marching bands and volunteered for various veterans’ organizations.

“Even though living with a cancer patient presents challenges, I have been successful because I know that every day is a gift to be embraced and lived to the fullest,” Kimberly wrote in her scholarship application. Kimberly will graduate with a double major in English and marketing and plans to attend law school.

Watch CBS-13 interview with Kimberly and Bobby Schmidt

On Father’s Day and every day, Kimberly said she draws inspiration from her father, whose brain tumor still causes frequent seizures but is under control.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 10,000 adults and children every year, and access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 280 scientists at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Jackson Laboratory (JAX West), whose scientific partnerships advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis collaborates with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer care. Its community-based outreach and education programs address disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations. For more information, visit