HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4)– A young Highlands Ranch woman is celebrating a milestone in her fight against cancer. On Sunday night, Kylie Schwartz’s community chipped in to make sure her celebration was unforgettable.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Since even before I was diagnosed. I’m really excited,” laughed Schwartz, 23.
Country music singer Luke Combs announced his “Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour” he scheduled Red Rocks for May 12. That announcement came in September 2018. Two months later, Kylie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
She began to develop signs something was wrong in August 2018. She had a rash that wouldn’t go away along with chest pain, back pain and a horrible cough.
In an article written by her treating hospital, Chicago’s Northwestern Medicine, Kylie describes what she went through, “At first, it felt like I was having a heart attack, and then it felt like all my bones were breaking. Doctors kept telling me it was anxiety, but I knew something more serious was wrong. I had to be an advocate for myself and speak up.”
Doctors found an enlarged lymph node on her collarbone and scans showed a 13×7 centimeter mass in her chest. The cancer had spread throughout her body. She was diagnosed with Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer normally found in much younger patients.
After months of chemotherapy in Colorado, she was referred to the Chicago Proton Center at Northwestern Medicine, for intensive treatment.
According to Northwestern Medicine, protons deposit much of their energy (or dose) directly in the tumor and then stop, whereas conventional radiation continues to deposit the dose beyond the tumor. Northwestern Medicine has the only proton center in the state of Illinois; there are currently no proton centers in Colorado.
When Kylie graduated from treatment, it was a big deal. The size of her tumor had been reduced and she felt better. She made big plans to return home to see Luke Combs at Red Rocks May 12.
To make the occasion special, Kylie’s mother decided to rent a limo. She used social media to ask the community for advice on the best limo companies but that’s when the community stepped up to do more than that.
A non-profit called Do It For the Love got involved and secured backstage passes for Kylie, her friends and her family. Her neighbors provided the limo along with food and champagne. To kick off the celebration, Luke Combs himself sent his makeup team to get Kylie ready for the night.
CBS4 stopped by Sunday afternoon as she prepared for the show with family and her closest friends.
“I am so excited that I don’t even know how to act!” Kylie laughed as she closed her eyes for makeup artist Cali Jeffries.
Jeffries talked with Kylie about all the country stars she has worked with and reassured Kylie that she was going to be great.
“I don’t want to fan girl, but I probably will!” Kylie laughed again.
Kylie’s friends and parents waited patiently to see the result.
“Okay whenever you want to turn around, it’s your thing!” said Jeffries.
You could hear gasps across the room and suddenly tears.
“Oh daddy!” Exclaimed Kylie as she looked over at her father, tears streaming down his face.
“It’s been a long journey up until this point and it’s just nice to see her have a nice day…” said Brad Schwartz, Kylie’s father. “It’s opened our eyes for our entire family, how much community for us.”
It’s a moment Kylie’s mother never thought would come. When Kylie was diagnosed, Leslie Schwartz quit her job to be with her.
“She’s well enough to go and um, just to see her and her friends came in to be with her… so it’s just… this is the best Mother’s Day ever,” cried Leslie.
Kylie is grateful for her community and believes the kindness she has seen is a big part of her healing. She hopes others take note.
“I want them to know that a simple smile can make somebody’s day. A little girl smiled at me at the hospital one day and that day, I didn’t want be here anymore and after she smiled at me, it literally changed my entire outlook on life.”
Kylie’s mother stands by the story and they both believe, the old Kylie is back.
“It’s like her spirit and personality are back and cancer has a force to be reckoned with,” said Leslie.
“I genuinely love my life more now than I did before cancer,” said Kylie.
Kylie will resume chemotherapy treatments in Colorado through September and then has plans to finish school at Metropolitan State University. She has one year left and plans to continue a career in medical administration.