‘It’s amazing’: Mount Prospect teen who battled cancer surprised with trip to Cubs spring training

Last spring, Bria Schmidt was in a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks part of the body's immune system.

This spring, the 16-year-old Hersey High School student from Mount Prospect has something far better to look forward to than the five-hour chemotherapy treatments that began in May.

She, along with two other patients of Advocate Children’s Hospital, will soon take an all-expenses-paid trip to Mesa, Arizona, to watch her beloved Chicago Cubs in spring training.

Bria and her fellow patients were surprised with the good news Monday during a tour of Wrigley Field. Standing near home plate, they watched Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom deliver the news on the ballpark’s videoboard.

Bria Schmidt, a 16-year-old Hersey High School student from Mount Prospect and devoted Cubs fan, was surprised Monday with news she's going to spring training this year. Courtesy of Advocate Children's Hospital

“It’s amazing. I wasn’t expecting this,” said Bria, who will be making her first trip to spring training. “My mouth really dropped to the ground.”

The trip will include visits with Cubs players, an all-access day at Sloan Park and the opportunity to watch the Cubs play the crosstown rival White Sox.

She was accompanied on the field Monday by her father, Anthony Schmidt, her mother, Lainie Schmidt, and her grandmother, Marsha Kelly. Her family was in on the surprise.

Joining her on the trip will be 15-year-old Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient Jonathan “Jonny” Slota of Chicago and 11-year-old heart patient Ian Slager of Monee.

Bria learned she had cancer in May after discovering a lump on the left side of her neck that continued to grow. A series of tests confirmed the diagnosis.

She has been in remission since September, after months of difficult treatment that she now says came with both downfalls and benefits.

“It was really hard going through it. People didn’t know really how to react when I told them. I hadn't really had anyone around me who went through this,” she said. “So, I was kind of figuring it out as I went. But it taught me a lot. I feel like I definitely became more mature. And I think I realized the most important things in life from it.”

Among those lessons was not to worry about the “silly little things.”

“Because life goes on whether you want it to or not. Just live in the moment and appreciate what you have,” she added.

Cubs fan Bria Schmidt got a tour of Wrigley Field on Monday that ended with the news that the 16-year-old from Mount Prospect would be attending the team's spring training in Arizona this year. Courtesy of Advocate Children's Hospital

Bria said she deeply appreciates every nurse and doctor at Advocate who helped her out. One of those doctors, pediatric oncologist William Goodell, joined her Monday at Wrigley.

“She’s just a good kid,” Goodell said. “I think her demeanor really helped her through a lot of this stuff. A lot of us need to be carried through things. She's the type of person who not only could carry herself but she carried the rest of us with her.”

  Bria Schmidt fields questions from the media Monday at Wrigley Field after learning she was getting a trip to see the Cubs at spring training this year. Steve Zalusky/
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