Justine's Fight

Hi everyone, my name is Alana. I am a single mom to one beautiful 11 year old girl, Justine. Justine came into my life when I was only 16 years old. She is the reason I breathe everyday.

In August 2018, Justine was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer), at 9 years old. She completed 3 months of chemotherapy, then had an amputation of her left leg, and then 6 more months of chemotherapy. In May 2019, Justine was declared cancer free.

In October 2019, I noticed that Justine had been short of breath quite often and on Thanksgiving, an unexpected emergency trip and chest X-ray showed that Justine had a pleural effusion - fluid in her right lung. She was immediately transported to the Stollery Children’s Hospital by ambulance. A few days later, Justine was prepped and taken to the OR to have a chest tube inserted to drain the fluid.

Once the fluid was drained, the doctors were able to see multiple, large tumours spread out all along Justines right lung. The cancer came back and it came back aggressively. Again, she was prepped and taken to the OR to have another IVAD placed (the port where she receives her chemotherapy). She was started on chemotherapy right away. This meant that she was going to lose her hair again and spend many many nights in the hospital. It also meant that she needs another invasive surgery - this time on her lung.

From October 2019 to May 2020, Justine did well on chemotherapy. The tumours were responding well. We consulted with 4 different surgeons in this time frame, and all of them deemed Justines Lung tumours inoperable and unfortunately, they had to stop chemotherapy before it caused any damage to her kidneys.

On May 20, 2020, Justine started a new oral chemotherapy that could be done at home. That also meant she would grow her hair back and less hospital visits! In September 2020, we were told that the tumours had grown slightly, but that her scans were still “stable”. Something told me this is not right. I decided to start a second opinion from a doctor in Cleveland, USA.

November 2020 - another CT scan was done and it showed that the tumours had grown yet again, and she had a small pleural effusion. I consulted with the doctor in Cleveland and he suggested some chemotherapy options for Justine. A) a chemotherapy that would allow her to keep her hair and have little to no side effects (but very little studies done on it). B) a chemotherapy that is harder on the body and she will lose her hair (studies done, but again no guarantee that it will work). Justines primary doctor and the doctor in Cleveland agreed that we are now focusing only on quality of life and quantity of life..... there is no more talk about a cure.

Justine needs her tumours removed. Because of this, we decided to go with option A. Justine received her first dose on November 6. 10 days later, it was discovered that the pleural effusion grew larger and needed to be drained with another chest tube. After brainstorming, the doctors decided that it would be best to insert a permanent chest tube... this will allow us to go home faster and just come back to the hospital to have it drained if and when needed.  On November 18, Justine was prepped and taken to surgery to have the chest tube inserted. She is now in hospital recovering from this surgery.

In the past 2.5 years, Justine has spent every holiday and special days in the hospital, including her 10th and 11th birthday, and two Christmas’.

I am raising money to look for care outside of Canada. This care will consist of consults and opinions from thoracic surgeons and some of the best oncologists at sarcoma centres in the USA. Canada is running out of options and ideas and we need to start thinking outside of the box. I have received a quote from one of the best sarcoma centres in New York that consists of a team of multiple sarcoma specialists and thoracic oncology specialists - and that alone is around $5000 USD.

During Justines fight, I quit my job to be at home full-time with Justine. She needs her mama and I need her more than anything. I feel so helpless and need to do everything in my power to help my baby. If you’re able to donate, whether it is $1, $2, $5 (anything helps) we greatly appreciate it. If you’re not able to donate, we ask that you please share Justine’s story with your friends and family.

Thank you so much for following Justine’s Fight. You are all so amazing and we love you!


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Alana Janvier 
Edmonton, AB
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