Before she was a year old, when she was just learning to crawl, her parents noticed something out of order. They took their little girl to the doctor where she was diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, a mild form of cerebral palsy that causes paralysis on one side of the body.
A series of operations lengthened the heel cord of her right leg so she could walk more correctly, and lots of physical therapy was followed by several operations that ended in seventh grade, when she stopped growing.
Despite these childhood setbacks, much like the Energizer bunny, the young girl just kept on going and going and going.
She learned to work around the fact the right side of her body had less coordination than the left and in 1993, as a high school senior golfer, she came from behind to finish with an 89 to share the state schoolgirl golf title with the defending champion.
At the time, she certainly earned, and deserved, the title of “Comeback Kid.”
Now she deserves that title even more.
In 2007, wife, mother and physical therapist Jennifer Flemming Robb of Calais discovered a lump on her neck she thought was just a tight muscle.
But when the lump didn’t go away, she went to her nurse practitioner who ordered an ultrasound and CAT scan. In July of that year, Jenn was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She began her first chemotherapy treatment Aug. 1, the day Corey and Jenn’s son, Maxwell Robb, celebrated his second birthday.
Jenn’s treatments ended that December.
Now 35, Jenn can say with gratitude she has been cancer-free for three years. And Max has a sister, 18-month-old Quinn.
Now, Jenn and her friend, Kim Johnson of Hermon, have joined Team in Training to raise funds for the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society.
The pair will be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon Feb. 26, 2012, in Orlando.
Jenn has three reasons for choosing to participate in this event.
The first is that when she was being treated for Hodgkin’s disease, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society assisted her family, financially, because she was unable to continue working for Community Health and Counseling Services.
“I was able to use a program that helped me maintain my health insurance,” she said. “Raising money for this society, and knowing what it did for me, definitely is making the training more easy.
“[But] there is more stress in raising the funds than doing the training,” she said.
The second reason she has entered is to support her friend’s family.
Kim’s mother, former Baring resident Candy Bayliss, who now lives in Zephyrhills, Fla., is fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Jenn and Kim attended Calais High School together and both graduated from Husson University in 2001 with degrees in physical therapy.
“Kim emailed me and peer-pressured me into doing this,” Jenn said with a chuckle.
The third reason Jenn is participating is that her family already had a Florida vacation planned that coincides with the date of the half-marathon so, since she would be in the state anyway, she could find no excuse not to participate.
The women each have to raise $3,300 and there is a re-commitment date of Dec. 29, Jenn said. If you are still in by December, you must raise your funds by Feb. 13.
Jenn is working hard to meet her commitment and has a Zumba night scheduled for Nov. 4 at the Calais Rec Center.
In the meantime, she and Kim will take donations of any amount at teamintraining.org.
The “Comeback Kid” is working hard, again, to help support an organization that supported her when she needed it.
The physical process has not been an easy one because her body is, today, as it was when she was young.
“My right foot is a little weaker and I am a bit nervous about my right knee,” Jenn said, “so I’m slowly progressing on my mileage in my training.
“I train on gravel, not on the paved road. I’m just trying to be smart and be a good patient of a physical therapist.”
Jenn has had lots of experience being a good patient, and being patient.
She admits this undertaking is challenging.
“I never was a runner,” she said. “I do aerobics, I swim and walk, but this is a little different, so I’m following the training schedule I copied off the Internet and am gradually increasing my mileage each week.”
She is pleased the Orlando course is mostly flat.
To make a direct contribution, make a check payable to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and mail it to Jennifer Robb, 30 Calais Ave., Calais 04619.