A leg up on normalcy

Jess Hively couldn’t get the smile off her face after walking into the Balaton Community Center last week, where friends and family were waiting to throw her a surprise party on the 20th anniversary of having one of her legs amputated in an effort to overcome cancer. Her daughter, Ann, and husband, Jared, were among the first to welcome her to her party Friday. Photo / Sophia Gaul

“Surprise!” yelled friends, family and Balaton residents who showed up to support Jess Hively last Friday evening.

But this wasn’t just a surprise party thrown for Jess’ birthday; instead, it was a celebration that she was still with them.

In June 2003, when Jess was in seventh grade, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that occurs when the body grows too quickly. After her diagnosis at Avera in Marshall, she was referred to Mayo Clinic’s Childrens’ Hospital. Her options were limited because of the size of her tumor, and the decision was made to amputate above her left knee.

After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy, Jess went into surgery on Sept. 17. She continued to do precautionary chemotherapy for months following the procedure, and everything went smoothly. Jess was officially cancer-free and done with chemo in February 2004.

See more in this week’s paper!