"Joining the Battle Against Cancer in Kids and Supporting Local Youth"

 

ęCopyright 2002
Justin LeFevre Foundation
PO Box 57
Witmer, PA 17585
All Rights Reserved

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Hitting Life With All He's Got
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Born on November 16, 1984, Justin LeFevre will be remembered always by those who knew him.  A fun loving kid with a beautiful smile, Justin made the most of his time on earth.

As a child growing up in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Justin was an adventurous boy with an endless imagination.  He loved playing with friends and spending time outdoors.  He loved to travel, which led to horseback riding and parasailing.  When his grandfather was looking for someone to accompany him on a hot air balloon ride, Justin was eager to go, soaring over the fields of Lancaster County.

As he grew older he took up dirt bike riding and became an avid hunter.  Perhaps his greatest passion, however, was the game of football.  At the age of eight and entering second grade at Smoketown Elementary school in the Conestoga Valley School District, Justin enrolled in the Conestoga Valley midget football program. 

He spent six years as a running back and linebacker in the midget football program.  One of his many highlights included his first year on the B team when his team won the Red Rose league championship.
At the age of fourteen, the summer before his freshman year of high school, Justin began working as a ride operator at Dutch Wonderland amusement park.  He enjoyed working and hanging out with his friends.  At the end of the summer, he again resumed football practice, this time playing on the Conestoga Valley Junior High team.  He excelled at linebacker and running back, filled in at safety when injuries depleted that position, and even took a few snaps at quarterback at the conclusion of one game.

Justin's freshman year at Conestoga Valley High School was an enjoyable one.  He loved school, loved hanging out with his friends, and dreamed about the day when he would be a senior. The summer after his freshman year of high school, Justin again worked as

 a ride operator at Dutch Wonderland.  He was in the weight room three times a week preparing for his first year on the high school football team.  In August he put his summer job behind him and began three-a-day football practices.  Justin was loving it.  He had goals.  He wanted to play varsity football.

On September 18, just four weeks into the school year, Justin was hit with news that would change his life forever.  He was experiencing pain in his buttocks.  He played hard on the football field, and often endured bumps and bruises.  But this time something felt different.  His doctor requested an MRI.  The test revealed a tumor the size of a football growing in his pelvis.  Justin was admitted to Penn State Hershey Medical Center for further tests.

      Later that week Justin was told he had cancer.  He had a malignancy from the Ewing's sarcoma family of tumors in his pelvis.  Due to the size and location of his tumor, Justin's doctors were unable to give him any assurance as to their ability to cure him.

      Justin took the news well, and vowed that he would beat the cancer.  After a long week of tests, he struggled home on a Friday evening, in time to meet his football team on the field at halftime of an important game against Elizabethtown High School.  Justin's team was down by a touchdown at halftime.  In the second half they turned the game around and posted a victory.  Justin watched from the sidelines on crutches.  Following the game his coach presented him with the game ball.

 Several weeks later Justin returned to the hospital to begin difficult chemotherapy treatments.  Every third Wednesday he was hospitalized for three to five days as the medicine flowed through his body.  Justin's spirits remained high.  He was an inspiration to many.  He did his best to keep up with his schoolwork and lead a normal life.  In November he traveled to the mountains to hunt deer and successfully harvested a buck.  Despite his weak condition, he insisted on removing his deer from the woods on his own.

In the spring of 2001, midway through his chemotherapy treatments, he learned that the medicine was working.  His tumor had shrunk and doctors felt now was the time to operate.  Successful surgery removed what was left of the tumor.  Justin was optimistic as always, but still had a long way to go.  He began twenty-eight straight days of radiation treatments, at the same time resuming his chemotherapy.

      By the summer of 2001, Justin could see the end of his treatments.  He was attending summer school between chemotherapy treatments, and was determined as ever to play football.  He traveled with the team to camp at East Stroudsburg University, and in August attended three-a-day practices, missing only for scheduled chemotherapy.  Justin took it slow at first and was beginning to get his strength back.  His goal was to play.

After several weeks of practice he developed pain in his knee.  Doctors attributed it to his many months of inactivity, unrelated to his cancer.  The pain however, got worse.  Justin played in his team's first two scrimmages, but by the time the season opened he stood on the sidelines in uniform, unable to play due to the pain in his knee.  Doctors again ordered an MRI and discovered the worst; the cancer had spread to the bone above his knee.

Justin didn't give up.  He tried a new type of chemotherapy, and when that didn't work he tried a third program.  But the pain only got worse.  Doctors could give him no good news.  Faced with the reality of death, Justin plowed on, attending school as much as possible, and smiling when he could.  He took up guitar playing.

All the while Justin's faith in God did not waiver.  He knew that if his time was up, he would live eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven, but he did not understand why God would want to end his life so quickly.

      By Thanksgiving, Justin's pain had continued to progress and was quite severe. 

He nevertheless spent time in the woods hunting and enjoying the outdoors.  In December he resumed radiation treatments in an attempt to manage the pain.  New Years Eve was spent with loyal friends who had visited him countless times at the hospital.

On January 15, 2002, at the age of seventeen, Justin said goodbye.  He lived a life of courage and dignity.  Despite intense pain during the last few weeks of his life, he frequently pulled himself together to visit with friends, and tried to maintain a normal life for those around him. 

The day of his death, Justin knew it was time.  He requested the presence of his families and a few of his closest friends, and shared a last breath with them.