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Back to the Mat (Again)

Gymnast Injuries are not a foreign concept to athletes. No matter the sport, almost every participant experiences some sort of injury in their lifetime. Competitive cheerleader Jess Voge is no different. By the time she was 14, she had already experienced more than her share of working towards recovery. Because of her resilience and dedication to her sport, she was able to come back to the mat twice and continue doing what she loves.

At age 12, Jess was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is an aggressive form of leukemia that begins in the bone marrow and spreads very quickly throughout the body. After chemotherapy she was successful in achieving remission, but that also came with loss of muscle, strength, and weakened joints. After all this, she was able to build her skills back up when her treatment was over. It was hard work, but with her determination she was able to go back to doing what she loves.

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In late 2018, Jess experienced another setback to her sport. During a tumbling pass, she landed on her shoulder incorrectly. “I remember thinking she’s not okay but remained calm,” her mother, Joellyn, says. “Jess has a high pain tolerance from all she had faced with cancer treatments, so she was calm too. Concerned but calm.” They went straight to Beacon Urgent Care after one of her coaches suggested Beacon over a standard emergency room.

At Beacon, an x-ray was performed on Jess’ shoulder. They discovered that she had fractured her humeral, the long arm bone above the elbow. After the x-ray, the urgent care specialists got in touch with Dr. Mohab Foad, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the treatment of hand and upper extremity disorders. He wanted to see her immediately the next morning.

The next day, Joellyn and Jess went in to meet Dr. Foad. “Dr. Foad was the perfect fit for Jess, he really gave her a lot of time, information, and care,” Joellyn says. “He saw what she had already been through and how much it meant to her to be normal and feel normal in her sport. He was the best!”

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After determining what the best course of action would be for treatment, Dr. Foad performed surgery on Jess’ fracture. She had three pins put in for her humeral repair and was expected to be out of her sport for about 6 weeks.

Like many recoveries, Jess’ was not easy. “My treatment and recovery were painful at first, but I followed what Dr. Foad suggested as far as when movement could start and slowly kept myself moving forward away from the surgery,” Jess says. Throughout her recovery, she attended every practice her team had even though she could not participate. She returned to the practice mat in early January and was able to compete on January 11 for the first time since her surgery. Her team came in first place at the event and won their bid to The Cheerleading Summit at Disney in May.

Today, Jess is a freshman at Little Miami High School where she is a member of the Varsity Cheer squad. She is also a competitive cheerleader at Midwest Cheer Elite where she is a member of the Femme Feline- Large All Girl Level 6 team. “I am proud to say that I have overcome not one obstacle in my sport but two big ones and am thankful I had a surgeon like Dr. Foad to help me return after fracturing my humeral. Beacon was great for me.”

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