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

 

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Justin LeFevre Foundation
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Cancer won't stop CV player from living his life to the fullest
Wednesday,
October 25, 2000

 

Justin LeFevre
Conestoga Valley sophomore Justin LeFevre is battling Ewing Sarcoma cancer
Other Articles:
 
Justin's Bio Page
Hitting Life With All He's Got
LeFevre gave Bucks an example to follow
By Jeffrey Reinhart
New Era Sports Writer - Photo by Chris Knight

This is a story about life.
About how precious and delicate it is.
About how short it is.
About how you better enjoy it, because you never know when it's going to end.
This is the story about a boy.
About a boy who loves life.
About a boy who cherishes life.

About A boy who will never give up on life, even when it throws him a curveball.

Justin LeFevre, a sophomore on the Conestoga Valley football team, has Ewing Sarcoma cancer. About 150 children are diagnosed with it a year. And here's the kicker: you never know you have it until you suffer a bruise on or near the cancer that's when it spreads. Most, if not all, Ewing Sarcoma patients are born with the cancer.
    What's the cure rate with patients suffering from Ewing Sarcoma?
   
There isn't one.
   
"It goes from zero percent to 100 percent," Justin's mom, Jeanie LeFevre‑Glick says. "Nobody knows."
    That's the unpredictable part about Ewing Sarcoma. There's not a doctor on the planet that can tell Justin exactly what is going to happen to him.
    Justin has a tumor the size of a football on his backside. The tumor is localized, but it is wrapped around ‑ among other things ‑ his intestines, bladder colon, kidneys and spinal cord.
    "It's in the absolute worst possible place," Jeanie says. "His tumor is in the soft tissue in the pelvic region."
    Justin has already undergone one chemotherapy treatment. He's scheduled for another Nov. 1, when doctors at the Hershey
    Medical Center will insert a tube into his chest and let‑the medicine seep into the cancer.
    Their goal? Shrink the tumor until they can use radiation or let a surgeon go in and remove it ‑once it untangles itself from Justin's vital organs.
    "Sometimes." Jeanie says, "I just want to cry and cry."
   
Justin has lost some weight.
   
"Around 20 pounds or so," he predicts.
   
And most of his hair is gone.
  
"Lost just about all of it in under two weeks," he says, not a hint of anger or disappointment in his voice. "Right now I have about half of a Mohawk."
    Justin LeFevre is 15 years old.
    He lives in Leola with his mom, Jeanie.
    He loves the breadsticks and salad at Olive Garden.
    Four months ago, he was a 5‑10, 165‑pound tailback trying to win a spot on CV's varsity roster.
   
Today he's fighting for his life
   
When he was originally diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma earlier this fall, Justin wasn't given much of a chance to live. Nobody ‑ especially a 15‑year‑old ‑should be handed that kind of diagnosis. Thankfully, his first chemotherapy treatment was a success. He even says he can actually feel the tumor shrinking.
    "Yup," he says, "and I can honestly tell you that this is the best I've felt in a year."
    And what a year for Justin LeFevre. Last summer, he was goofing around in the yard with his stepbrother, Charlie, when Charlie accidentally kicked Justin in the rear end. He thought he pulled a muscle. In fact, he participated in CV's football camp, played in scrimmages against Bishop McDevitt and Cedar Crest, and appeared in the Buckskins' season‑opening 29‑0 win over Penn Manor.
    But Justin knew something was wrong. The pain worsened. The swelling was getting bigger. He was genuinely uncomfortable.
    "When I look back on it now," he says, "I remember getting sudden fevers, and that's a symptom."
    He wasn't sleeping. The pain was excruciating. And the next thing he knew, Justin was being whisked off to Hershey for a battery of tests.
    "I wasn't seared," he says. "It takes an awful lot to scare me."
    The results, however, were enough to scare the daylights out of anyone.
   
Ewing Sarcoma Cancer.
   
"I was shocked," Justin says. "I figured I was a healthy kid, but..."
    But the news was bad. Any cancer is bad. That's the cold, hard truth. But Justin LeFevre is turning something bad into something very positive. He goes to school everyday. He goes out with his friends. And he keeps himself busy, not locked in a room asking what if or why me?
   
In a word, he's positive.
   
"When we found out, it was tough on everyone," says CV senior Dan Chow, a two‑way lineman for the Bucks. "We've never really been in this situation before so it's hard. You start asking yourself why this is happening to him. All you can do is just pray and hope for the best ‑ and that's why we're all keeping a positive outlook."
    Especially Justin, who just wants to be one of the guys.
    He was humbled after CV's Sept. 22 game against Elizabethtown. The Bucks held off the Bears 13‑7, and after the game, CV coach Gerad Novak did something he's never done in his six years as a head coach: He handed the game ball over to Justin, who made his way to the middle of the huddle despite being bogged down by crutches.
    I covered the game that night and witnessed the post game ceremony firsthand. it was very emotional. Several CV players left the huddle with tears in their eyes, including senior Nate Bagley, who wears Justin's wristbands for good luck.
    "I've only ever handed out one game ball, and that was to Justin," Novak says. "I ‑wanted to let him know that he's a part of our team and that we're all thinking about him. In order to get a game ball, you better do something special or fantastic."
    Then Novak paused, and you could see a tear well up under one of his eyes.
    "And what he's doing ‑ in my mind ‑ by facing that battle on a daily basis, is much larger than the battle his teammates face every day on the football field. But Justin is going to win his battle. For him, this is the championship game he's trying to win."
   
And early on, Justin LeFevre is leading.
   
"He'll find a way to beat this," says CV sophomore wide receiver C_J. Lapp, one of Justin's best friends, "When I heard the news it didn't seem teal. You don't think that can happen to someone our age. But Justin told us right away that he'd beat it. He still walks around the halls cracking jokes. He even jokes about his hair."
    But Justin knows this is no laughing matter. That's why he stays positive. And why he surrounds himself with family and friends. And why he tells everyone not to worry, because he'll beat this in no time.
    "Believe me," says CV sophomore running back Ryan Thompson, another one of Justin's closest friends, "if anybody. can get through this, he will. Definitely."
    "Justin was born positive," Jeanie says. "That's just his personality. He's just an all‑around positive kid. He's always been that way. He's very determined and he always has goals.
   
Justin's goal?
    Simple: conquer this.
   
"I want to be ready for football camp next summer," he says. "That's my goal. Right after my last chemotherapy treatment in January, I want to get back in the weight room. The toughest part about all of this is that I can't play football. But I'll be fine. And I'll be back."
   
Sounds like a promise. And I believe him.
    Jeanie does, too.
   
"As a mom, you have to be positive," she says. "You can never, ever give up on your child. We have no control over what happened, and we have no choice but to deal with it and stay positive and just be here for Justin.
    "if he says he can beat this ‑ and that's half the battle ‑he will."
    But it'll be a long road to recovery. Justin will get chemotherapy treatments through January, followed by a scan to see how much the tumor has shrunk. It will wipe him out. He'll sleep a lot. He may loge some more weight and the rest of his Mohawk.
    But that's OK, because Justin LeFevre will fight it. He won't give up. He won't give in. And there's entirely too many people in the CV community pulling for him that he simply won't stop fighting.
    "If you think you're going to fail, you're going to fail," he says. "And if you think you're going to get sick, you're going to get sick. If I think this is going to beat me, it could beat me.
    "So I'm not going to let it beat me. No way. My doctors told me there were some things I couldn't do, like play football. Well I told them, 'No way!' I'll be back
... and I will be back."
    And Coach Novak will have your locker, your shoulder pads and your No. 33 jersey waiting for you, Justin.