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Benefit planned for Fulda woman

FULDA -- She has battled back from three different bouts with cancer, but an infection following her latest cancer surgery has kept Jeanne Koopman of Fulda in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital for more than a month.

Now, her family and friends have come together to organize a benefit in her honor. Doctors say the mother of three may never be able to work again following this latest set-back. Koopman will remain hospitalized until leaks in her bowel can be repaired and healed -- a process that could take several weeks.

Jeanne hasn't worked at her jobs at New Dawn and Brian's Supper Club in Fulda since early April, said her daughters, Stephanie and Chelsie, who have been commuting between Fulda and Avera-McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls at least three days per week since mid-April.

Their mom was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1999. At that time, she had a total hysterectomy, starting off eight cancer-free years. Then, in April 2007, the cervical cancer returned. Jeanne completed 35 radiation treatments and nine weeks of chemotherapy to eliminate the cancer growths.

"In August, she was declared cancer-free," Stephanie said, adding that her mom had continued with checkups. In March, tests revealed the cancer had returned in the same area. On April 15, doctors performed a total pelvic exoneration on Jeanne that involved removal of both the bladder and colon.

"It was a last resort surgery," Stephanie said.

Doctors are confident they removed all of the cancer, she added.

Chelsie said her mom spent 15 days in the hospital following surgery and returned home for four days before getting sick again.

"She got an infection, and it went through the blood stream," Chelsie said.

"(Doctors) did a minor surgery to remove some of the infection, and she's been there ever since," Stephanie added.

Because the bowel leaks are contributing to the infection, Jeanne has been on complete IV nutrition since the surgery. She isn't able to have water and can have ice chips as long as she doesn't swallow them.

Stephanie and Chelsie said doctors continue to do testing on their mom in hopes of finding where the leaks are. Once located, the plan is to have surgery to repair them.

As she awaits another surgery, Jeanne is doing both physical and occupational therapy at the hospital, and she gets to take short walks about four times per day to rebuild her strength.

"She's doing really well now," Stephanie said.

Jeanne and her family really appreciate the visits and well wishes from people in the Fulda area.

"A lot of people have gone to visit her," Stephanie said. "She's a busybody, and for her to be confined for seven or eight weeks (has been a challenge)."

They said it also means a lot to their mom to know so many prayer chains have been said for her, including churches in the Twin Cities where Stephanie is affiliated, and in Indiana, where Stephanie's fiancé serves as a youth pastor.

When Stephanie and her fiancé are married June 28 in Worthington, it is hoped Jeanne will be able to attend.

Saturday's benefit begins with an Iron Horse Motorcycle Run that will leave from Brian's Supper Club at 12:30 p.m. and return between 6 and 7 p.m. Registration for the run begins at 11:30 a.m.

Raffle tickets will be sold from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and again from 5 to 10 p.m., and are available for purchase inside the supper club. A wide variety of donated silent auction items will be on display for people to place their bids.

A benefit supper featuring pulled pork will be served at 5 p.m. at the supper club for a free-will donation. Entertainment, featuring a DJ and karaoke, will begin at 8 p.m.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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