Justin was diagnosed on February 10, 2014. He was in the hospital from April-June 2014 because of HLH (Hemophagocytic Histiocytosis) which is a life-threatening illness that affects the immune system. From March 8-August 19, 2016, Justin was hospitalized because of a spider bite that became septic. He was in the PICU for 2 weeks, was on life support and dialysis, and his mom was told he only had 24 hours.
Amazingly Justin pulled through, but had to learn to walk again. What impresses me about Justin is his peace of mind. I know that Justin has a strong faith, and he loves to read the Bible. But he takes his faith deeper than reading the Bible. Justine lives his faith and knows that even though he has cancer, God has a plan for him. I believe that his attitude helps him through the hardest parts of his treatment and illness and gives him unheard of strength.
Despite being faced with death, Justin is more concerned with others and worries about them. This characteristic reminds me of Nick. He always made sure people were comfortable around him and told jokes to make others laugh. Such compassion is what our world needs.
I spoke with Justin the last time Nick’s Fight made a donation to The Melodies Center. He came in to listen to us speak and had such a pleasant and serene smile on his face. Erin Doescher, another artist and member of Nick’s Round Table, and I spoke with Justin. He showed us his drawings and is very talented. He has gone through so much, but I always see the drawings he posts on Facebook for other people. He thinks of others first. Not only does his drawings brighten others days, his creativity helps him cope, which is a healing outlet.
Justin has one more year of treatment. He has recently been in the hospital with a fever, which is terribly difficult when he’d prefer to be in school and hanging with his friends. But he smiles through and knows that this will only make him stronger and prepare him for what lies ahead. Justin wants to help other children by being a nurse practitioner. His compassion and generous spirit will be a huge benefit to children who are hurting. I’m proud to know Justin and am honored that so many young adults share their stories with me. Sharing your words empowers and heals. Keep spreading joy, Justin!