Mom of five looks forward to going home

After her last chemotherapy treatment, Jennifer Goecke rang the bell and looked forward to returning home to her favorite role in life – being a mom.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes

She says her life is simple – nothing too unusual or edgy. Jennifer Goecke is a mom. She’s a mom to five children and at times has been a mom to nine – part of an extended family.

It was during her last pregnancy when she began feeling pain in her left leg. Initial doctor visits left her feeling like the pain was related to her pregnancy. She made it to 36 weeks in the pregnancy and more complications occurred. A placental abruption resulted in an emergency delivery.

“It was a scary time. She almost died,” said her mother Georgia Hall. And even after Goecke and her newborn were released from the hospital the pain in her leg continued. When it got so bad she couldn’t put pressure on it, Goecke visited an orthopedic doctor. She was set for surgery when tests revealed a sarcoma – a malignant tumor.

“I didn’t know what to think. I was in shock. I’d just had a baby. My hands were full,” said Goecke, 37, of Connersville. Her three boys and two girls range in age from five months to 18 years.

She came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center in July where she spent five days inpatient for chemotherapy treatments, then home for 16 days and then back again. She recently completed her last cycle and rang the bell on 3 East – signaling the end of her chemotherapy. Nurses, her mom, her cousin and aunt cheered her on, knowing that this was a time to celebrate.

“The tumor seems to be shrinking so the chemotherapy must be working,” said Goecke. Sarcoma, an uncommon type of bone cancer results in fewer than 200,000 patients a year. Now, they wait. An MRI scheduled in October will determine if surgery is needed.

For now, Goecke is anxious to reunite with her children.

“She’s a good mom and she’s always been a good kid. She really never had any illness other than chicken pox,” said her mom. “As a kid she was a tomboy. She loved to climb trees and be outside in the country.” For a time Goecke played both basketball and football. Later in life, she played sports with her kids and enjoyed anything outdoors – camping, attending their games.

“Besides the pain, the hardest thing has been being away from kids,” said Goecke. “I’m ready to go home.”