Here is her story: (This is Part 1, Part 2 will be posted next Friday)
Justin Mark Ferguson 1-11-81-10-6-96
In Dec 1994, Justin, (12) was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. This was a very devastating day for all of us.
Justin has severe tonsillitis in Nov.’94. The doctors had run routine blood test, but they did not come back routine. There were indicators that we were not sure of. We were sent to Texas Children’s hospital where they finally diagnosed the cancer. Justin was given a 50-50 chance of survival. We immediately started chemo and planned our stay for 30 days.
We spent Christmas’94 in the Holiday Inn across the street from the hospital. My husband, Jerry, my other son, Jeremy, my mom, and I tried to make it special for Justin. Justin had so many mouth sores from the chemo that he just couldn’t eat. Food smells made him sick, so we made sure that we ate away from him. All he wanted was dill pickles and coke in glass bottles. I remember driving around downtown Houston looking for them.
Thank goodness we have a wonderful family. Everyone took turns staying with Justin. My dad and mom, Grady, and Nelda, would stay for a few days, and then my mother-in-law, Mary, would trade out. Jerry and I would stay as much as we could, but it was good for Justin for a change. My niece, Sarah, asked to take her finals early so that she could stay with him before Christmas. Adam, my nephew, was Justin’s constant companion.
Justin went into remission after the first 30 days of treatment. We felt blessed, but knew that this could change. We were in and out of the hospital and clinic constantly. I think my vehicles could go to Houston on auto pilot. Justin was put on homebound, and I was his teacher, but we allowed him go come to school when he felt like it.
He and his dad did a lot of fishing and hunting. My parents took him on trips to places he wanted to see. We felt that Justin should get to do some of the things he wanted. After a year of remission, the doctors wanted to do a bone marrow transplant. December of ’95 this process was done.
The doctors sat us all down and began to tell us the side effects of the total body radiation. Justin jumped up and said “Yes, no more mama’s curse!” The doctors just looked at him and asked what he meant by that. Justin looked the doctor straight in the eye and said, “Hasn’t you mother ever said ‘I can’t wait until you have kids and they act like you.’” The doctor just laughed.
During spring break of ’96, we took a trip to see my aunt in Dallas. Justin and Adam were out riding go carts and the nurse practitioner called to say that we needed platelets. She asked to speak to Justin, and I said, “Well, he is out riding go carts.” Her reaction was I can’t believe you are letting him, he could get hurt. I said, “Yes, but don’t you remember when you said that if he bumped his head he could bleed to death, and his answer was, “Well you can walk out in front a truck too”
He always had some kind of a comeback. Justin had to have his own bone marrow cleaned and frozen in case a match could not be found, and sure enough no matches. We spent another Christmas in Houston, but at least we were all together. Justin attended several camps with the sunshine kids and enjoyed spending time with other cancer kids. Several groups did fund raiser to help with expenses during his illness. The “Gypsy” motorcycle group adopted him and he loved it.
We received the dreaded phone call in August ’96 that Justin’s cancer had returned. Justin did not want to go through treatment again, and they said that it probably would not help. Jerry and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary in the bone marrow transplant unit with Justin receiving platelets.
In Sept, it flooded and Justin had to go to the hospital to receive blood, so we choose to go to St. Elizabeth in Beaumont. When he got there he told the nurses that no one, but his Aunt Katherine, was going to stick him. Katherine was working on an ambulance that day, so she met us there and put in the IV.
The motorcycle group came by on Oct 2, 96 to visit with us and Justin asked to speak to “Preacher” alone. Justin did say what he wanted to talk about to us. The weekend of Oct 4-6, several of Justin’s friends came by to visit. Sunday morning, Oct 6, Justin said “Mom, I talked to Preacher the other night and I know that I am saved. I trusted in God, I just wanted you to know. I knew at that moment that it would not be long before he was gone. One of them (Joey) worked with Jerry and had gone fishing with Justin and Jerry several times. Joey wanted to watch a movie that Jerry and Justin had made on one of their weekend trips to the hunting lease. Joey came out to get me and said that Justin was calling for me. I went in a sat on the floor next to his bed and watched him slip away. Jerry came in and sat by us, and I told Justin that it was time to go, to fly away. We had picked the song “Fly” by Celine Dion and “Go Rest High” by Vince Gill to play at his funeral. Justin smiled a small smile and then left us to be with his Heavenly father.
Click HERE for Part 2