Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Last night Justin graduated high school. He attended the Bullis School. It was a night filled with so much emotion. Audrey and I could not be more proud of Justin's accomplishments and especially graduating high school. Justin always struggled with school from an early age because he is learning disabled. He attended the Lab School of Washington from kindergarten to 7th grade. The Lab School is a school that specializes in kids with emotional and learning issues. Justin could not read or write until the 4th grade. The Lab School was a great place for Justin to get a foundation because they used a multi-sensory approach to learning. We were so happy the first time Justin read us a story...it brought tears to our eyes. Justin's last year at Lab School in 2009 when he was diagnosed with his brain tumor. It was one of the hardest things I had to do is meet with the school about Justin's brain tumor. The school was in a crisis mode because all the children are so fragile emotionally and the teachers are so connected with the kids. I remember to this day telling the principal the terrible news and we were both crying. We owe so much to that school as Justin would not be where he is today. Justin loved the Lab School but he begged us to go to public school at Frost Middle School because he so badly wanted to be like his brothers and also be with his neighborhood friends. He excelled at Frost thanks to the learning accommodations provided by the school and the county. His teachers were fantastic. We thought it would be best for Justin to attend Bullis because it is a great school with small classes and a very nurturing environment. He was a freshman and his older brother Jordan was a senior. Jordan really looked out for him and it was amazing to watch them both play varsity soccer together. Justin excelled at Bullis and they really worked very hard with Justin. He was so determined to do well and fit in. Justin became our little success story at the school. Again, Justin defied all the odds given his brain tumor and learning disabilities to graduate Bullis. We are very grateful to Bullis for Justin's success As I have said before, we did not think that Justin would be alive to even graduate when he was first diagnosed. It has been a very hard journey for Justin to reach this finish line. He had to work so much harder than everyone else not only with his learning disability but the constant stress of living with an inoperable brain tumor. The headmaster last night gave a great speech about detours in life. He ironically mentioned Vice President Biden with the loss of his son Beau to a brain tumor over this past weekend. He said it was a detour for the Vice President and another wall that he has to climb. Justin too has had a detour and many walls to climb. Justin has so much determination that I believe if he puts his mind to it he can achieve anything. Now Justin is relaxing and reflecting on his accomplishments. He is so excited to go to Salisbury University to become a student/soccer athlete. He is about to embark on a new journey away from home and our comfort to become the man that he wants to be and achieve greatness at Salisbury while still continuing his Justin's Quest foundation work. It has been a long journey for Audrey and I as well pushing and comforting this little boy while raising 3 other boys. I have been very focused on Justin once he was diagnosed with learning disabilities because I felt so bad for him struggling in school and emotionally having a very hard time After his diagnosis in 2009, I basically stopped everything that I was doing to focus exclusively on saving my son. This consumed me 24 hours a day, I could not bear the thought of burying my son. Thankfully today Justin is doing well, we have him with the best doctors in the world for his brain tumor. Justin, Mom and I cannot express how proud we are of you and so blessed to have you here with us every day. We love you very much!
Friday, May 8, 2015
Justin's Last Day of High School
What a milestone, Justin completed his last full day of school before exams. He graduates June 1, 2015. This day as you all can imagine is one of so much joy. Six years ago after Justin's diagnosis we did not know he would be here to graduate. Each day and milestone that he achieves is a blessing. Today we know he is in a great place as we have in with the best doctors for type of brain tumor and the best treatment on standby if needed. However, as I look back when he was first diagnosed it was doom and gloom because we had no idea for the first 9 months to a year what his prognosis was. We are so proud of Justin and are looking forward to him going to Salisbury University as a student/athlete playing soccer. It is a great university which has a fantastic environment where he will thrive. The summer will be filled with a lot of soccer for him as his club team the Baltimore Celtic compete for a national championship and hopefully some rest and relaxation before he starts college.. It is a very exciting time for Justin and the Friedlander family.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
It has been awhile since I have updated you. Justin was accepted early decision to Salisbury University and he will play soccer for the team. Justin is so happy that his dream of attending Salisbury University came true. He plans to continue his endeavors with Justin's Quest at Salisbury. The college student body is very community orientated and is a great match to help and work with Justin continue his work to raise awareness and find a cure for brain tumors. I cannot explain to you the feeling that Audrey and I have. As I have said earlier that every milestone that Justin achieves is so incredibly important and gratifying because of his brain tumor. When he was diagnosed we never thought he would even be alive to attend college. Not only is he going to a fantastic academic school but playing soccer for great team. Having faith and the best medical team has helped Justin beat all odds. Also, all of the prayers that Justin has received and continues to receive is also making a difference. As I write this I have to pinch myself that Justin is here on this earth, doing well and enjoying life. About 2 months ago Justin came to Audrey and I and asked us if he can get a tattoo. Of course Audrey and I were shocked but he just turned 18 and can get a tattoo without our approval. I asked him what type of tattoo do you want. He said " I want to get a Tatoo with the saying God gives his hardest battles to his strongest warriors with his date of diagnosis 3/12/09." Well Audrey and I were taken back by this phrase as quite it frankly blew us away at the meaning of the saying and most importantly what it means to him. We told him that this is permanent for the rest of his life. Justin recognized this but felt very strong that his brain tumor is one of the things that defines who he is. We went with him to get the tattoo which he had placed on the right side of his ribs. It was incredibly painful for him, but he was a soldier. Justin is so proud of this tattoo because it gives him a permanent badge of courage of his plight and the continued desire to raise awareness and find a cure for brain tumors. This kid never seems to amaze me. We are going to Mass general Hospital December 16th for Justin's MRI and doctors appointments. Of course this is a very stressful time for him and the family. We have been going to the eye doctor every 6 months and getting a special eye mapping test of his eye and optic nerves every 6 months. All of this is testing is done alternatively thereby giving Justin testing every 2 months to catch any new changes in Justin's brain tumor. We are very blessed to have Justin here and the rest of our boys.We will keep you posted. Happy and healthy holidays to all!
Saturday, September 13, 2014
We are pleased to announce that Justin has officially applied early decision to Salisbury University. Justin is so excited about going to SU. It is a dream for him to be a model student/athlete. He wants to play soccer for SU and be a contributor to the school. For Audrey and I it is unbelievable to fathom that Justin is going to college. We are so lucky because we did not know if Justin would be on this earth to achieve this milestone. All the little things he does are a blessing but going to college is just an unbelievable feeling for our family. I have to pinch myself that Justin has this opportunity. Since we submitted the application to SU I have felt a sense of peace and reflection that life is so precious. I am soaking it all in and trying to enjoy my family more. Justin has been such a blessing to us helping our family smell the roses. He is doing great in school and fantastic on the varsity soccer team where he is the captain. December is a big month for Justin as he will be at Mass General for testing. In the meantime he is going getting special eye testing soon and as always we are praying for a good result.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Justin is about to embark on an incredible milestone for any high school student and that is graduation from high school. As I ponder this, I realize that this feat is incredibly significant because just 5 years ago we were not sure if Justin would even be here to graduate much less have the scholastic ability because of potential treatment. As I have said in previous blogs all the little milestones that parents take for granted, we on the other hand count our blessings when each milestone is achieved by Justin. It is with great joy that Audrey, me and the rest of the family will witness Justin graduate from Bullis. Today he starts his last season on the Varsity soccer team and probably will be named a captain. Again I have to pinch myself as to how lucky we are that he is achieving all these milestones. I chatted with him this morning to say how proud we are of him and to enjoy this year. He was so excited to start his senior year, but there is a bit of trepidation going off to college and leaving the nest. All kids have that feeling of trepidation but for obvious reasons Justin's is more pronounced. We know he will do great at college. He is so excited to apply early decision to his dream school, Salisbury University where he also wants to play soccer for the team. Salisbury is a fantastic school and we met so many wonderful people at our visit that we are certain that it is the right college for Justin. I will update you on the progress of Justin's senior journey. We could not be prouder of Justin.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Thanks To All that Supported Us at the Race
Audrey, Justin ,myself and the rest of our family want to thank everybody who supported our team Justin's Quest for the DC Race for Hope for the Cure. It was a beautiful day, sunny and a bit cool. Again, I have to pinch myself that I am at this race to find a cure for brain tumors because my son Justin has one. It is so surreal to see him in the yellow survivor shirt. Thankfully he is a survivor as we pass by the memorial tent of those that passed away from a brain tumor...your heart just breaks. I want to give a big shout out and personal thanks to my dear friend Robbie who I have known for over 36 years. He has been at the race for the past 3 years, but this year he was so instrumental in helping Justin get through the walk. This is a very hard and emotional day for Justin. He is sad yet glad to be helping out to find a cure. It has to be hard for a kid to deal with this.Justin, myself and Robbie walked together. Robbie was great keeping Justin engaged with his wonderful stories. Before you know it the race was over. Justin is so glad to raise money and awareness for a cure. For a moment put yourself in his shoes wearing his yellow shirt thankfully branded a survivor but still not knowing your outcome and destiny with this terrible disease. Her went home after the race emotionally drained and slept for 4 hours. This Monday is another big day for us in Boston at Mass General Hospital for Justin having his MRI and Doctor's appointments. We are praying for the best. I will keep you all posted and thanks again for the love and support!
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
26 DAYS TO THE DC RACE FOR HOPE
We are getting very close to our 5th DC Race for Hope. It is so hard to believe that time has gone by so fast yet in some ways so slow. The Race is such a great event as it has raised so much money to find a cure for brain tumors and raise much needed awareness. There are way to many people dying each year from this terrible disease especially kids. As I have said before it so unnatural and unconscionable for a parent to bury a child. It has to be the worst thing in the world. I can tell you that we know to many people that have buried their children because of their brain tumor. We need to do more to find a cure and more research for pediatric brain tumors. I wake up every day a blessed person that I can see my Justin and give him a kiss before he goes to school and do the same before he goes to bed. The simple things that we all take for granted are no longer simple in fact for our family, they are milestones for Justin. He is about to finish 11th grade and go to college next year. If you told me that 5 years ago I would not have believed it. See, each day we walk on eggshells with Justin, it is very hard to describe unless you are going through it. We still have a hard time especially during his testing which is about every 2 1/2 months between his extensive eye exams and eye mapping and his MRI's. We were scheduled to have his MRI in Boston May 5th the day after the Race but we felt it would be to hard and emotional for him. Therefore, we are going up to Mass General May 12th for his MRI. Justin is excited for the Race but as you can imagine he has a hard time believing that he has a brain tumor and wears the yellow survivor shirt. We hope to see you all out there supporting the Race and Justin's Quest team. Thank you again for your love and support.