Cancer won't stop CV player from living his life to
October 25, 2000
Conestoga Valley sophomore Justin
LeFevre is battling Ewing Sarcoma cancer
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
boy who will never give up on life, even when it throws him a
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
There isn't one.
"It goes from zero
percent to 100 percent," Justin's mom, Jeanie LeFevre‑Glick says.
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
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
The results, however, were enough to scare the daylights out
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
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
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.
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
"if he says he can beat this ‑ and that's half the battle ‑he
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
"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.