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Portrait Of A Hero - Glenda Part 1

My cousin, Jerry, and his wife, Glenda, had 2 sons.  Tragedy struck and both sons died with in a short time of each other.  

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



  1. What a touching story. How brave Justin was in facing such a dreaded disease and not letting it control his life. Thank you for telling the story.

  2. @Sandy, I know you can relate to this story in your own way! Thanks for sharing your comment!

  3. What a wonderful person Justin was/is. How blessed you all were to know him.

  4. Oh Becky, what a touching story! I have been extra moved by stories like this during the past three months, as my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August. Although we expect him to live a full, normal life, this experience has opened my eyes to a world of pain that some families endure. I hope to update my blog soon with thoughts about this - I've been too busy to write much, obviously. You have such a beautiful faith. Love, Lisa

  5. Thank you for sharing such a moving story. My oldest son is only one year younger than Justin. His story sounds like he was a young man with a lot of courage.

  6. I got goose bumps reading this story. This is not suppose to happen.... we should die before our children. What a brave, brave boy.

  7. @Karen, going to his funeral was the last trip I ever took. It was a blessing to be able to go.

    @Lisa, Experience does open our eyes! Blessings to you and your son.

    @Bonnie, It is still amazing to me to see the courage and strength that our youth have.

    @Candida, I think you'll enjoy reading part 2 and seeing what has happened since!

  8. Becky,
    I can't even begin to fathom the loss of Justin, to your family. He sounds like he was so brave and positive. What a great family, to stick so close to each other through the good and the bad times. I know God gave you tremendous peace and comfort through this journey.

  9. becky i love you but i can't finish reading this. it's so sad and breaking my heart.

  10. @Sam, I know how you feel. I had to read it several times getting it ready to publish and cried every time...I love you, so don't fret about not finishing it!

  11. Becky,

    I don't know how parents deal with losing one, let alone, two children. I pray I never have to learn.

    Love ya,


  12. Becky Jane, I know you cried while writing this story. It takes such a long time to deal with the grief of losing one who is so loved. If I wrote my own blog on paper, it would be tear stained. May the Lord hold you and your family tight while you deal with the pain.

  13. Justin sounds like an amazing young man. Honored to have read his story. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. This must have been hard to write, Becky Jane. Grief is one the toughest emotions we have to deal with in his life. My niece died from the same illness in 08. She also went through the transplant, 2 actually.

    Justin died just 2 weeks before my husband did. It still feels like yesterday, doesn't it?

  15. Reply to Tina's comment: Remember the writing Footprints in the Sand...? That's how we move forward after the death of one of our children: It has been 15 years since my son, Craig went to be with the LORD and he has been carrying me since...I take NO credit for strength, wisdom or power...IT IS ALL THE LOVE OF THE FATHER ...
    Becky Jane = lovely post, heart floods with rivers of tears as it brought back my son's death ..and we too had "Go Rest High on the Mountain" at his funeral...
    You're the best Becky Jane....big "wet" hugs from Arkansas this Saturday morning .send a hug for Justin's mom

  16. Justin sounds like a very brave, strong, and loving young man. I'm sorry your family experienced such a loss.
    My mother always said God never gave us burdens we couldn't handle, you just needed to pray for strong shoulders to carry the burden...There are many things we can't change, but with faith and family the burdens are easier to bear.

  17. What a brave young man, and what an amazing family. It warms a heart to hear what a wonderful support system you are to each other and to know that Justin's faith was so strong he could transition so easily. Blessings to you all.

  18. Becky this is just beautiful. I have not other words. Thank you so much for sharing their story.

  19. This so sad...Justin was too young to die but he had a good attitude. I feel for his family too

  20. oh. wow. That brought up more feelings than i realized were still there...


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