Girl battling brain tumor back in school

Jessica Bookwalter

Jessica Bookwalter

A Franklin youngster is back in school after a two-month hospitalization for a brain tumor.

Jessica Bookwalter, 6, started back to kindergarten classes at Central Elementary School last week. She is currently enrolled in two half days per week, said her mother Michelle Bookwalter.

“She’s doing really good,” Bookwalter said.

The kindergarten student lives with her mother, father Chris, twin sister Emily and brother David, 8.

Jessica returned to school after spending from Jan. 5 until Feb. 25 at the hospital, Bookwalter said.

A recent MRI found no growth in the tumor and doctors released Jessica to head back to class, her mother said. If she does well, Jessica may be able to progress up to three half days of school per week, Bookwalter said.

“We’re hoping,” she said.

Jessica has a tumor in her brain called an astrocytoma that is sometimes classified as cancer, Bookwalter explained. Treatment is aggressive and Jessica is still receiving chemotherapy through capsules she takes at home.

“She’s a tough cookie,” Bookwalter said.

The tumor’s location affected her sight on the left side and she can’t close her eye. As a result, the eye dries out and got scratched and ulcerated, Bookwalter said.

“Like most kids, she adjusts to it,” she said.

Area schools and other organizations have come out in support of Jessica and have raised some funds for the family. Bookwalter said her family appreciated the donations and they have used the money to purchase a wheelchair and medical supplies for Jessica.

The family still makes two to three trips to Pittsburgh a week to visit various specialists for Jessica and the funds help out with that as well, Bookwalter said.

Regular updates on the youngster are posted by the family on a Facebook page called Orange & Blue for Jessica. Those are Jessica’s favorite colors.

Her siblings are excited to have Jessica back in classes with them at Central, Bookwalter said.

“They love having her,” she said.