If you were to sit down to the dinner table with Justin Leblanc, the 12-year-old might just serve you his signature meal: steak with potatoes and carrots – and cake, if you’re lucky.
While helping in the kitchen at home in Hawkesbury, Ont., is a favourite interest of Justin’s, video games, soccer and tennis also play a big part in his life.
Now in Grade 7, Justin was nine years old when a hole was discovered in the femur of his right leg.
“There was a pain in my knee that built up,” says Justin. “I went to emergency, and they found a hole in my bone. They took a biopsy. They didn’t think it was cancer, but it was cancer – Ewing’s sarcoma, which is more common for boys.”
In November 2012, Justin received intensive chemotherapy before surgeons removed the bone tumour along with half of his femur and his complete knee joint, including the growth plate required for growth of the leg. They replaced his knee joint and femur with a specially designed prosthesis, which functioned well for about a year until the prosthesis got infected and broke.
In May 2014, Justin underwent a 17-hour surgery known as rotationplasty, during which the prosthesis was removed from his hip down to just under his knee and the remaining limb below was rotated and then reattached.
“It was scary. I really don’t like hospitals,” says Justin. “But now I’m able to walk, run, play sports. I can do anything I want.”
Justin hopes to participate in Rattle Me Bones on October 25, 2015. In 2013, Justin walked 500 metres of the 2K T-Bone, and this year he plans to walk 1K of the same event at Rattle Me Bones, which raises money for bone cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital.
“It’s really worth giving,” says Justin. “People actually die from this, and we need to find a cure. Every dollar makes a difference.”