Dordt College News

Newlyweds thankful for support in battle with cancer

January 14, 2005

In May, Jessica Bock walked the stage at Dordt College to collect her diploma. In June, she walked down the aisle at First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center to become Mrs. Ryan Loomans.

And in January, the surgical removal of a knee socket, hip and femur bone will make walking a hospital hallway her next goal.

Jessica was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma just weeks after being married this summer. This cancer preys on bone or soft tissues, and for Jessica it is located in her left leg, where she discovered it after experiencing pain and swelling there.

On Jan. 17, surgeons at the University of Minnesota Hospital will remove her femur, parts of her hip and knee socket, replacing them with artificial parts to try and eliminate the cancer from her body. The surgery will be followed by a fifth round of chemotherapy, along with physical therapy, to restore her health and the ability to walk.

Though their first year of marriage is not what Jessica and Ryan had hoped for, they say the prayers and support of family, friends and acquaintances are helping them get through it. That support is evident on her website,, where a guestbook logs an outpouring of well-wishes from friends and relatives in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and elsewhere.

Jessica is originally from Allen, Neb., and met Ryan (from Rock Rapids, Iowa) while they were both students at Dordt College in Sioux Center. Even their courtship presented trials: Ryan is part of an Army reserves unit headquartered in Omaha. He was called up to serve for a year stateside, tracking shipments headed to Iraq to make sure they reached their intended destination. Loomans was transferred to 14 locations over the course of 11 months. Upon completion of his army duty, Ryan took lineman courses at NCC, and is currently employed at Nobles Cooperative Electric in Worthington, Minn., where the couple now lives.

When Jessica first began experiencing pain in her leg, doctors thought she might have torn a cartilage. She decided to wait with further treatment until the switch to Ryan’s insurance coverage was completed. Fortunately, that policy is paying for a large portion of the medical expenses, but many other costs (such as frequent trips to the Twin Cities) are an unexpected expense for the newlyweds.

At Dordt College, professors and students sold sub sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies to help the young couple. They sold nearly 1,000 subs and were able to send the Loomans $1,500 in profit. Friends in Allen, Neb., also conducted a fund-raiser for the young couple.

But just as important as financial support has been prayer support, says Jessica. “It’s really encouraging to read the notes and messages people leave on the website.” They come both from people she knows and some she doesn’t know, who have heard about her fight with cancer through church, family members or her alma mater. Church members at the Worthington Christian Reformed Church have also helped bring in meals for the couple, spent time with Jessica while Ryan is at work and helped them with moving from their two story apartment into their first home, where she won’t need to climb stairs to get to a bedroom at night.

Jessica said it is faith in God that is sustaining them. “It helps to know God’s there to protect you … you think you can take care of yourself, but there are some things only God can take you through.”

Cards, letters or financial gifts may be sent to Jessica and Ryan at 1512 Murray Ave., Worthington, MN 56187. Jessica’s aunt, Janie Van Dyk, will post her progress following surgery on her website.

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