2010-01-21 / Front Page

Former Cancer Victim Stricken With Leukemia

Fundraisers organized for 12-year-old Justin Hudson
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Justin Hudson Justin Hudson At the age of nine, Justin Hudson was able to overcome an unexpected battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the bone and soft tissue. Since that time, the area boy has enjoyed life to the fullest – participating in Cub Scouts, playing video games and loving everything “Star Wars.”

Now, only halfway through the 2009-10 school year as seventhgrader at McConnellsburg Middle School, Justin was dealt a devastating blow over Christmas break being diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. This type of leukemia is common in children who have previously undergone chemotherapy.

According to Justin’s mother, Diane Kious of Rock Hill Road, just south of McConnellsburg, her family has been diligent in having Justin’s condition followed closely with CAT scans and blood work being completed every three months during the last three years. The leukemia was found during a regularly scheduled visit on December 22, with Kious learning the sad news the following day.

“I kept the news from my family until after Christmas so that we could enjoy our holiday with each other without that black cloud following us around,” she said. Justin promptly returned for testing on January 5 to ensure his heart and lungs were strong and healthy enough to endure treatment. Chemotherapy began the following day.

Kious stated after having eight days of a stronger regime of chemotherapy, Justin now has to wait for his cells to be “wiped out” or eliminated in order for his body to begin rebuilding his immune system and bone marrow. Follow-up treatments are currently in question as the family must first wait to see if the therapy causes the leukemia to go into remission.

“If his bone marrow rebuilds with cancerous cells, there are very few options for Justin,” said his mother. “If it rebuilds with noncancerous cells then he will have additional chemotherapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant.”

With knowledge of what chemotherapy does to the body and the treatment process himself, young Justin has taken the relapse fairly hard, Kious said. Primarily unconscious at this time due to the fever, pain and medicinal side effects, sadly Justin has told his mother he doesn’t want to die and is willing to do whatever it may take to beat the disease.

“He is weak, exhausted and unable to walk, eat or smile,” Kious reports. “He has always been such a light in everyone’s life that he meets, constantly happy, smiling and making others smile in turn. To see him here in this shape is my worst nightmare times 100 ... . Our hearts are truly broken, and the fear is very real that Justin will not make it through this. The odds are against him, and he knows it.”

While the family tries to remain positive and prays for the best possible outcome, the community is again rallying behind Justin in hopes of raising funds to offset cost-of-living and medical expenses as ongoing hospitalization is expected to last one month. Social workers have shared with Kious that donations are down at Hershey Medical Center and as a result less money is available to help the family during their stay.

Perhaps most notably among the contributors to Justin’s cause are physical education teacher Kathy Kendall and fellow staff from the Central Fulton School District. Through Kendall’s spearheading efforts, the school and students have instituted several fundraisers, including a “loose change challenge,” where homerooms are competing to see which class can collect the largest amount of coins. Pennies are considered “positive points,” while silver coins are deemed “negative points” in the tally system, which could see donations reach at least $2,000.

In addition to the change challenge, the school is also selling “Slam Dunk Cancer” T-shirts for $10 and “Justin Hudson’s Army” wristbands for $1 to raise funds. Monetary donations from the community, however, can be sent directly to Justin at Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, Attn: Justin Hudson, Room 7256.

Furthermore, Cub Scout Pack 43 of McConnellsburg, under the director of Scoutmaster Terri Booth, is scheduled to sell quarter and halfquarts of soup prepared over an open fire in conjunction with its annual Pinewood Derby. The soup will be available at the Cito Fellowship Hall on Saturday, January 30, from noon to 3 p.m. Proceeds from a baked goods auction to be held at 1 p.m. that same day will also benefit Justin and has family.

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