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

 

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Justin LeFevre Foundation
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Justin LeFevre won't let cancer keep him from Hitting life with all he's got
Thursday, October 26, 2000
 

Justin and his teammates
Conestoga Valley's Justin LeFevre, center, gets support from teammates like, from left, C.J. Lapp, Brandon Hershey, Dan Chow and Ryan Thompson
Other Articles:
 
Justin's Bio Page
Cancer won't stop CV player
LeFevre gave Bucks an example to follow

By Kevin Freeman, Sports Staff
Intelligencer Journal - Photo by Barry Zecher


When the day is done, Justin Lefevre's head hits the pillow and he thinks.
   
"Did I get all my homework done?"
   
Its a thought that probably runs through the mind of nearly every teenager.
    But homework seems a minor worry compared to Justin's battle with cancer.

The Conestoga Valley High School sophomore, who is a member of the Buckskins' football team, has been diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor.
    I don't really worry about it,"
    Justin said, after completing his classes on Wednesday. I try to look ahead rather than behind."
   
Justin, 15, was horsing around with his stepbrother, Charlie Moncrief, last spring when he felt some pain in his lower back. He didn't think much of it. But over the next four months, the pain increased. Still, Justin just dealt with it.
    Dealt with it through football's
Preseason camp, which often included three-a‑day practices. Through the early part of the season, too. As a running back/outside linebacker, Justin would have occasional high temperatures and pulled muscles on one side of his body as he subconsciously overcompensated for the pain on the other side.
    Finally, after a sleepless week, he went to the hospital.
    A biopsy found the malignant tumor around his intestines. Doctors have told Justin that he has a zero‑to‑100 percent chance for recovery.
    "I could have come up with that," he said.
    Despite those nebulous odds, Justin is meeting his illness the way he would an opposing tackler or running back. He is hitting it with all he has. Hitting, after all, is why he likes football.
    "I like to hit people ‑ hard," he said. "And I don't get in trouble for it."
    Justin's teammates have seen that drive on the football field and know that Justin will carry that same determination in the battle for his health.
    "Justin's definitely a fighter," said Ryan Thompson, one of Justin's closest friends ' who is also on the football team. "He's not going to give up."
    Justin has had one chemotherapy session, which takes several days, at the Hershey Medical Center and is scheduled for another on Nov. 2. Doctors are hoping to reduce the size of the tumor and then remove it.
    According to Justin, the tumor has not spread and is not in his bone marrow. That is good news, if you can call it that. It's much better than the original diagnosis, which indicated that the cancer was in a more advanced state.
    "Justin told the doctors that he wanted to play football this year," said CV coach Gerad Novak. "The doctors kind of smirked a little and then told him that while it was a great goal, he would be too exhausted to play."
    When Novak first told the team of Justin's condition,  "it threw us for a loop," according to one of the Bucks' captains, Brandon Hershey.
    "A lot of the players took it hard," Thompson said. "Now, it's not as bad as they thought it was going to be and I think Justin's going to be fine."
    After the initial shock, the team came together for Justin. Cards were sent, visits to his home made just to hang out with them. To let him know he was still part of the team.
    "Justin's a tough kid," said teammate Dan Chow. "He's handling it. He knows what's going on but he doesn't show it. He doesn't want to get us down."
    It was prior to CV's game against Elizabethtown that the team learned about Justin's illness. Novak and the team dedicated the game to Justin. The Buckskins were losing at halftime, then rallied to win in the fourth quarter.
    Justin, just out of the hospital, made it to the game at the half and then joined the postgame team gathering in the CV end zone.
    It was there that Novak and the Bucks presented Justin with the game ball. In six seasons as head coach at CV, Novak had not found a reason to hand out a game ball.
    That night, he had a reason.
    "I had never seen anything like that," Chow said. "How do you react to that? It was great to see him there and part of the team."
    "Justin was a little emotional," Hershey said. "We all were."
    Justin's illness has caused the players to take another look at life. They are finding that there is more to their days than sleeping, eating, school and sports.
    "You look at life a lot differently," Chow said. "You realize life is short and anything can happen, When they first told us, I thought, why him? He's only a 15‑year‑old kid. How could that happen? You think of life in a different way."
    Justin's life is certainly different now but he's aiming to get it back where it belongs. Back to where he's thinking about sleeping, eating, school and football.
    Back to where his chief  worry is whether or not he got his homework done.