Siouxland Stories: Local 4-Her overcomes cancer battle with the help of her calf

Siouxland Stories

PRIMGHAR, Iowa (KCAU) — Diamonds are the toughest material known to mankind and there’s a Siouxland girl who’s living up to her namesake battling cancer and not only participating in 4-H, but taking home titles.

“So this trophy is for my bottle bucket calf, and I got Grand Champion, and this ribbon is for Grand Champion too,” Jewel Hofman said.

Jewel Hofman, an 11-year-old living near Primghar, took home a win her first showing a calf at the O’Brien County Fair and has no plans of slowing down. But Jewel’s hard work began more than a year ago when she received a life-changing diagnosis.

“In April 2020, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma,” Jewel Hofman said.

On July 31, 2020, Jewel had a below the knee amputation of her left leg, and then she was allowed to come home for a few weeks. And then we had a few more months of chemo after that, with chemo ending the middle of January 2021,” said Sara Hofman, Jewel’s mom.

Sara said getting her daughter’s mobility and independence back was key and being fitted with her prosthetic, named Sunshine, was a huge step. She said finding physical therapist with the skillset Jewel needed just a few miles from home a blessing.

“20 minutes down the road from our house, they had exactly what she needed,” Sara said.

And for any 5th grader, raising an animal from birth to show at the fair is no easy task.

“Jewel has had a rough couple years, and she said she wanted to go into 4-H. So I thought, we’ll start out with a small bottle bucket calf. I didn’t want her to be hauling around a 1,400 pound steer in the ring, so my mom and dad have a cow/calf pair. Their first cow to calf had twins. So we pulled Guapo off, the one twin, and Jewel started taking care of it, bottle feeding it and walking it,” said Jerry Hofman, Jewel’s dad.

“It turned out to be a great thing for Jewel. She could talk to Guapo and he didn’t talk back, and that’s what she needed. She needed someone to be her friend who would just listen, and didn’t have any advice or any answers for her. So Guapo was very therapeutic for her,” Jerry said. “Her being able to walk again, and be able to pull a calf around was very heartwarming for the entire family.”

The tractor pull moment proved to be extra special for the family who was told most pediatric patients with a new prosthetic struggle to ride a bike again, especially to pedal and pull a tractor.

“We’ve been tremendously blessed by our lord and savior, and by our community members, there are a lot of people that go through hard situations that don’t have to comfort of knowing who their savior is and who don’t have the community that we had around here.”

The surrounding communities of Primghar and Sheldon have put up “JEWELSTRONG” signs in their windows. As for Guapo, Jewel said she plans to show him nex year.

“She plans on taking him back to the O’Brien County Fair and show him as a market steer, and I told her from day one that he will get sold next summer, so she should prepare herself for that,” Jerry said.

“You have to spend a lot of time with your calf and you have to talk to it. I tell him to walk and just talk to him,” Jewel said.

Jewel also said that Guapo listens, at least most of the time.

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