Thursday, September 13, 2007

Chaska cross country paying tribute to JJ

The Chaska High School boys cross country coach Andy Powell e-mailed me today to let me know that the program is going to pay tribute to JJ, who was an extremely gifted runner, on October 2. I'm so thankful and excited that the Chaska cross country program is doing this. Andy Powell (pictured left) and Scott Stallman (pictured right) are wonderful people. If anyone is interested in attending this event on October 2, please let me know … and I will let you know the details as it gets closer. The e-mail is below.

Andrew,

We are going to recognize and pay tribute to Justin at the Victoria Lions Invite on October 2. The boys varsity race has been re-named in his honor and will be called the Justin Kukowski Memorial 5K. That will appear on all the plaques given to top finishers for teams and individuals. We're going to contact Justin's mom and dad and ask that they attend the awards ceremony. Can you give me some contact info for them (e-mails/phone numbers)? That would be great. We'd love it if you and anyone else from Justin's CC era (Mark Williams, Matt Schoen, etc.) could attend as well. We're very proud to be recognizing Justin in this manner and hope this race will serve as an ongoing legacy to his accomplishments and tremendous spirit. Any involvement you'd like to personally have or suggestions you want us to consider are welcome. We hope you can be a part of this event.

Coach

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Celebration/Ashes Spread

There will be a celebration with some of Justin's ashes spread on Saturday, July 28 in the valley near Lewiston, Minnesota. More information and directions will be posted on the blog as the date gets closer. If you are a non-family member interested in attending, please send an e-mail to andrewhipps@gmail.com, so that we can get an accurate head count. Thanks!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Leaving Earth and Going to Heaven

By Kim Wittmers:

On Sunday, March 11, I made the trek to Chaska to visit JJ. I brought along the finished scrapbook and JJ asked me to read it. On the last page I put the poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Less Traveled." We spent time talking about the road JJ was on. We both knew it wasn't the road he chose, but he was thankful his friends and family were walking it with him and that made all the difference.

I asked him if he was scared. He thought about it for a moment and replied, "No, just a little nervous." He told me he didn't want to miss all the amazing things here that his friends and family will experience. But he also said there will be amazing things in heaven. He just couldn't have the best of both worlds.

We talked about how his family and friends left behind will miss him the most. That we will carry him with us forever in our hearts. That his life will go on because of his love for us and Christ.

We talked about our youth trips at COG, the late night discussions about God, faith, purpose and the spiritual high we always got on those trips. We always wanted that spiritual high to last forever. I told JJ through my tears that he's going to have that high for eternity. That he will be made whole again and will understand everything. Somehow, I think he knew this before he left.

The last thing we talked about was why he didn't go into youth ministry. He didn't think he had the qualifications and didn't know what to put on his resume. I said he was over qualified with all the volunteer work he did at church in the youth program. I could have written a reference letter for him just like I did for all those college entrance forms. He joked and said, "Well, maybe I should put it on my resume for the Big Guy," and pointed up. I laughed and said, "He already knows."

JJ asked me to stay longer, but I knew he slept more often than not. We said our good byes and that we would see each other soon.

It's been just over three weeks and I still find myself in tears. Not a day has gone by in my life since I left COG, that I didn't think of JJ. Something reminds me of him - a runner, baseball, camping, church, a comment on the radio, my son. Life - I guess.

I thought he was invincible, I just never knew how invincible he is. He beat cancer, just not the way I expected.

Peace and love -

Kim

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fools Five: Supporting Team Justin

Article Link

By Rick Solem | Winona Daily News

LEWISTON, Minn. -- They were in it in strollers.

They have walked it, ran it and worked it.

This year, Morgan and Lacey Hennessy couldn’t take part in the 29th Annual Fools Five road race.

Not in Lewiston, Minn., anyway. Not even in the United States.

The sisters -- Lacy, 23, who graduated from Lewiston-Altura in 2002 and Morgan, 21, who graduated from St. Charles in 2004 -- took part in the Fools Five this year from Iraq and they did it in memory of their cousin Justin Kukowski.

From their military base just north of Baghdad, the Hennessy sisters raised more than $2,500 for the Fools Five, which donates its funds to cancer research.

The sisters were supposed to be home from Iraq already -- home for their cousin’s funeral; home to run in his memory.

"They have been there since last March," their mother, Karen Hennessy, said. "Now, their stay is extended until August."

So they couldn’t be in Lewiston, but the sisters were taking donations for the Fools Five and took part in Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure on Saturday.

On March 12, their 27-year-old cousin Justin died of a brain tumor, which he was diagnosed with a year and a half ago.

Team Justin, however, was at the Fools Five. Family and friends, wearing orange "Team Justin" hats were scattered throughout the field of runners.

"There are about 20-25 of us," said Justin's father, Don Kukowski. "He always ran this race."

Justin was a man who lived life to the fullest, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"He was still visiting friends in New York, Colorado and Wichita, (Kan.)," Don Kukowski said. "Even though he was just 27, he lived life twice as fast. He did more in those 27 years than someone at 54."

He never let the cancer get him down or slow him down.

"He touched a lot of lives," Justin's uncle, Randy Kukowski said. "I know he made me a better person just by knowing him.

"He never lost his sense of humor despite going through what he did."

Kukowski was born in Shakopee, Minn., and graduated from Chaska High School before moving on to the University of Minnesota. He finished school at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a Mathematics degree.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Justin's Cousins Run Lewiston Race ... in Iraq

Article Link

If things had gone according to schedule, sisters Lacy and Morgan Hennessy would be home by now, and looking forward to running in another Fool's Five road race on Sunday.

Those plans have been changed.

They'll be in Iraq, where they have been stationed with the Minnesota National Guard now for close to a year.

Their thoughts, however, will be in Lewiston, their hometown and site of the 29th running of the Fool's Five.

"We got extended; hopefully we'll be home in August,'' said Morgan. "We've always looked forward to running that race.''

This year, especially. Proceeds from the race, now in its 29th year, go to the cancer research at the Eagles Cancer Telethon and also to the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation.

And cancer has really hit home; their 27-year-old cousin, Justin Kukowski of Chaska, died March 12 of brain cancer.

"We weren't that close to him growing up but recently we became real close,'' said Lacy, talking last week via a videoconference from National Guard headquarters in Winona. "Both of us were going to school at the University (of Minnesota) and we lived three houses from Justin.

"He was really a neat guy, he had so many friends. It would have been nice to run in his honor at the race.''

Instead, they have raised over $2,000 in pledges at their base, all for the Fool's Five.

"And we expect to get more,'' said Morgan.

The sisters are stationed at Camp Anaconda, a base housing over 20,000 soldiers just north of Baghdad. On Saturday, along with hundreds of other soldiers, they'll be running in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure, a race which has become very popular in the United States as well.

Proceeds go to breast cancer research.

Both Hennessys ran cross country and track in high school.

Lacy, 23, graduated from Lewiston-Altura in 2002. Morgan, 21, graduated from St. Charles in 2004. Lacy first went to school at Truman State in Missouri and then transferred to Minnesota, where she joined the National Guard. Morgan went to Minnesota and also joined the Guard.

In Iraq, Lacy is a mail clerk and Morgan works in the administrative department.

"Being stationed together really helps,'' said Lacy. "I have someone I can always talk to.''

They are daughters of Mike and Karen Hennessy of Lewiston.

Donations to the Fool's Five for Lacy and Morgan Hennessy can be sent to Karen Hennessy, 620 East Main Street, Lewiston, Minn., 55952.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Memorial Fund

For anyone interested in a memorial fund for Justin Kukowski, there has been one set up in remembrance of him at:

Family of Justin Kukowski
Security Bank
539 South Elm Street
PO Box 45
Waconia, MN 55387

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Obituary

Obituary (Star Tribune)

Justin Kukowski, 27, of Chaska, died peacefully on Monday, March 12, 2007, after a courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by his loving family and friends.

Funeral Service will be held Saturday, March 17, 11 a.m. at Crown of Glory Lutheran Church, 1141 Cardinal Street, Chaska, with the Rev. James Rothschiller officiating. The visitation will be Friday, March 16, 3-8 p.m. at the Bertas Funeral Home, 200 West Third Street, Chaska, and also one hour prior to service on Saturday. Casketbearers will be Trevor Kukowski, Tory Kukowski, Brandon Kukowski, Seth Ressie, Zachary Ressie, and Aaron Clark. Honorary casketbearers will be Tami Sass, Kristel Marquardt, Leah Kukowski, Kelsie Kukowski, Carter Kukowski, Cole Kukowski, Chantel Ressie, Courtney Kukowski, Brenden Kukowski, Tyler Kukowski, Lacy Hennessy and Morgan Hennessy, Alexi Trocinski, Benjamin Trocinski, and Abi Trocinski.

Justin was born March 3, 1980 in Shakopee to Donald and Kathleen (Hennessy) Kukowski. He was one of two sons. He was baptized and confirmed at Crown of Glory Lutheran Church, Chaska. He graduated from Chaska High School in 1999, and attended the U of M in Minneapolis, and then graduated from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, with a degree in Mathematics. Justin had been employed at Wells Fargo Bank after moving back to Minnesota in 2004. He played baseball and ran cross-country for the Chaska Hawks, and also played American Legion baseball. He was an avid Minnesota Twins and Green Bay Packers fan. He enjoyed golfing, playing softball, fishing, and hiking. He had many friends in Minnesota and Colorado, and thoroughly loved spending time with his family and friends.

Survivors include his parents, Donald and Victoria Kukowski of Chaska, Kathleen Hennessy and Bob Rehbein of Cologne; brother and sister-in-law, Kyle and Jeni of Wichita, Kan.; stepsister and stepbrother, Teresa (Jason) Karsten of New Brighton, Nathan (Stacy) Stuhaug of Fertile; nephews and nieces, Weston, Hudson J.J., Ryan, Michael, Tyler, Tysen, Cale, and Mya (his goddaughter); grandparents, August and Orphie Kukowski of Stockton, Bernard and Mary Hennessy of Lewiston; best friend, Andrew Hipps of Eden Prairie; many other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the family. Justin was preceded in death by, grandmothers Rose Hennessy, Beverly Hennessy, and nephew Jaden Karsten. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the family.

If you would like to briefly share how Justin influenced you in your life, you will have the opportunity to do so at the funeral.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jesus Called

At 12:52 p.m. today, Justin answered Jesus' call and went home to be with the Lord in Heaven. He was surrounded by family and friends. More information to come in the near future. Thanks to everyone for thoughts, prayers, and support through it all.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Update (Sunday)

I just wanted to post a quick update. Justin is not answering his cell phone/checking messages or reading e-mail right now, so we will do our best to keep this blog as updated as possible with the latest information. Please keep checking back and posting comments for Justin!

Pastor Jim and Sandy came over on Sunday night for Communion. Justin's brother, Kyle (and family), will be leaving Monday morning, as will his aunt and uncle (Shannon and Eric) from Georgia. Thanks for all the support for Justin! He has such a strong support system … and he loves every one of you. Please keep checking back and posting comments for Justin!

Justin's Birthday Gift

UFC champion Randy Couture gives Justin a birthday gift:

Audio Clip: Randy Couture

Friday, March 09, 2007

Thanks!

The Kukowski family and friends would like to thank Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers organization for their act of kindness. Their gifts were very generous. It really means a lot to Justin, so thank you very much.

Justin has been really tired lately, so he's been sleeping a lot. It has been getting harder and harder to keep everyone updated all the time. Justin's family and I will do our best to keep the blog as updated as we can. Comments on the blog are always welcome … and we'll read those comments to Justin … if he is too tired to check the blog.

Justin's brother, Kyle (and his family), are in town visiting from Wichita this weekend. Thanks for all the support!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday, March 2

Happy Anniversary, Dad & Vicky. Sorry it's one day late, but I love you both very much. Also, happy birthday to Kyle. Sorry it came a couple days late. Nothing has been happening the last few days, although the weather is freezing up here in Minnesota. Thus, someone must have turned up the temperature an extreme amount. Sledding would be fun if I had better balance. However, my balance is so poor … it would not be fun. It would be a challenge just to make it down the hill. It has been cool throughout most of America, so I think everybody is hoping that it will turn around soon. Hopefully the Twins can make one more move before camp starts, although the Twins so far are looking pretty darn good.

My birthday is coming up on Saturday … and it just happens to be the same day that Randy Couture takes on Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title. Go, Randy! It should be a great fight. The cards all next month look really good, so it should be a great month of UFC fighting. That's all for now.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Audio Clip: Trip Summary

Justin summarizes his trip. Click on the link below.

Audio Clip: Trip Summary

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday

From Justin:

We got up early and took off. We headed out to Wichita to see my brother. Even though we got up early, we are still on the road and about 20 minutes from his home. We spent the whole day driving, other than stopping for lunch. Shortly, I'm going to check out how my simulation baseball and basketball teams did … and then we'll arrive in Wichita. We'll arrive in Wichita in about 20 minutes … and bog down there for the night. Well, that's all, folks! Talk to you later! Have a great night!

Saturday

From Justin:

After we rolled into town (Colorado Springs) on Friday, we slept until we met up with my friends from Colorado. We all needed a little bit of rest, so we caught some shuteye. We then saw friends for a little while at Old Chicago … and then we were off to bed.

On Saturday, we got up pretty early and had brunch with everybody from down there … and sat around and talked. It was not that cold, but I did not pack for the weather. I was cold and just stayed in the hotel room, which was fine by me. All my friends came by and we just kind of talked. It was nice to hear from everyone, though. I hadn't spoken to a lot of those people in like four years. We sat around, ate breakfast, talked about old times, and then I took a nap. Next, we went to the Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City and looked around those two places … and then back to the hotel room. And then we met up with everybody again and hung out later on. We had pizza, breadsticks, and soda. It was Little Caesars … and that is one of my favorites. And then my friends took off … and I went to bed. That was the day. It was a lot of fun to see all my old friends again. I'm sure I will be back to see them again. Well, that's all, folks!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday

From Justin:

Friday was mostly a driving day. We took off from our hotel near the Grand Canyon and checked the scenery as we left … but mostly just drove from Arizona to Colorado today. I have never made this drive before, so it was quite relaxing. We are not quite to Colorado Springs yet, but we are closing in rapidly. In Colorado Springs, I'm going to spend the rest of tonight with friends. Tomorrow we reserved a conference room at the hotel for about 4.5 hours to spend time with friends. We are staying again at the Hampton Inn Express … and it should be a lot of fun. I just cannot wait to get some quality shuteye. Today has been a lot of driving … and it's going to be darn sweet to get out of the RV. Believe it or not, I think that's everything.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Grand Canyon

From Justin:

On Thursday, we left Las Vegas and went to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is amazing! We would have spent more time there … but with a fella like me at that elevation … and the wind blowing that hard … it's still a little chilly on me. We looked at the Canyon from a few different angles up top. It is simply incredible! We probably spent about an hour looking around the Canyon. It would definitely be worth going back to at some point. And then we went and watched a movie on the discovery of the Grand Canyon. That was pretty awesome as well. The movie was probably about 45 minutes long. It was free to anyone who paid admission to the park. It was well worth it. All in all, it was another great day. Tomorrow we're off to Colorado. I'm not sure if we're going to meet up with everybody tomorrow or on Saturday. Well, that's all, folks. I hope everybody is having a great day … and has a great weekend! We'll talk to you soon!



Please Note: More pictures were recently added below

Wednesday (Part 2)

From Justin:

On Wednesday night, we stayed at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. It was a lot of fun. I finished up $25 or $30 on the night, so that was a bonus. I played a little bit of everything. Bob was the big winner! He played a slot machine and won big! Bob and I played until about 3:30 in the morning. And then we went to bed. Our plan was to get up in the morning and see the free shows at Bellagio, Mirage, and some others. But the problem is that none of the shows start until 4 p.m. It was weird … because I had never been up that early in Las Vegas. It felt like the day after a carnival in the morning. The streets were dead! We did not make it out of our casino the night before. We just stayed put at the Tropicana. Our options were pretty limited because we had the big RV. All in all, it was a lot of fun, though. All we got done today in Vegas was a walking around … and they wheeled me around. We then checked out and were Grand Canyon bound. Well, that's all, folks!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wednesday

From Justin:

We headed out of San Francisco and took a four-hour trip southwest to see the sequoia trees. Man, they were huge! We looked at the third largest tree in the world … and it was really big! We spent a good chunk of time in the Sequoia National Forest … and once again, we got beautiful weather. We're now heading off to Las Vegas. Hopefully the sun is shining for us there, too. So far the weather during the trip has been fabulous for us. I'm not sure where we're going to stay, but it will be nice to be in the hotel for the night. During most of the trip, we have spent time in hotels. Hopefully we all come out on top in Las Vegas, but I'm actually looking forward to the free shows. All in all, today was a great day. Well, that's all, folks!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

San Francisco (Part 2)

From Justin:

San Francisco was a blast! We got into San Francisco late last night, so we slept in a little bit today. When we got up, we started the day by taking a tour of Alcatraz. The Alcatraz tour took a lot longer than you would think. It was an audio tour, so it takes you all over the prison. It pretty much shows you the whole prison, including the roughest areas. Alcatraz is amazing, though. It is just a prison on a rocky island in the middle of the ocean. When visiting Alcatraz, you could definitely see why it got the reputation it has … and also why it was so rough. Solitary confinement would have been horrible … because you could go days, weeks, or even months without very much sunlight. There would not be a lot of perks for the prisoners to look forward to. I believe only three or four cells actually got direct sunlight each day, so it would have been a treat to be in one of those cells. But it was definitely a rough prison.

After visiting Alcatraz, we quickly toured the downtown San Francisco area. We went to this place called Fisherman's Wharf, where we met Jessica Misslin … and had some brunch. We ate at a restaurant called Sea Lion CafĂ©. The food was decent, but there were a bunch of Sea Lions right off the dock, so that part was cool. After that, we returned our rental and reloaded the RV. Now we're off to Fresno, California … and then to Las Vegas. Well, that's all, folks! I hope everybody is having a great night! I'll put another blog entry out tomorrow … and hopefully I'll be starting it off by me telling you how cool the sequoia trees are in California.

Monday, February 19, 2007

San Francisco

From Justin:

Later on today, after quite a bit of driving, we're going to unboard ship in San Francisco. We will start by going across the Golden Gate Bridge. And then we're going to meet up with Jessi Misslin and possibly Billy Kasper's wife. Bob knows Billy. We just went through Napa Valley, so we're able to look at quite a few vineyards. They were pretty neat … well, if you like grapes. After San Francisco, we're going to look at some sequoia trees. Then we're going to head down to Las Vegas. Before all that, we're going to attempt to take a tour of Alcatraz, which obviously Andrew could have broken out of in no time flat with his eyes closed! I'm not sure if we're going to do anything else in San Francisco. Well, that's all, folks!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vicky's B-Day

From Justin:

This morning we set out of Washington. As we arrived in Oregon, we met up with my cousin, Bria, who happens to be a track star at the University of Oregon. We did a quick tour of the University of Oregon and looked at all the stadiums.

Next, we went to the ocean. We spent a good little while there. None of us had been to the ocean in quite some time. It was very beautiful. One spot even looked a lot like the end of Goonies, except no giant octopus or pirate ship. But there was a very cool-looking house and lighthouse. All in all, it was a lot of fun ... and we headed out of Oregon by late morning. We have just been driving around the coastal highway. The ocean is right there, so we can always look out and peek at the ocean. Well, that's all, folks! We're 150 miles from California right now. I hope everyone is having a happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Seattle

From Justin:

The temperature today was 61 degrees here. First, we saw Mount Baker. It was from afar, but it was very beautiful. Then we went down to Seattle from Bellingham and met Britt and Nat … and went to the Space Needle, courtesy of Bob's friend, Ron Maderious. The Space Needle was awesome! We got really expensive meals in there. The food was great! Ron didn't even know me, but still bought me dessert, so that was really nice. And then we took a tour of Seattle with Britt and Nat. They were excellent tour guides!

Now we're heading south again, so all of our stays are pretty short. We're heading south to see Bob's nephew, Alex. We're about 10 minutes away from visiting him. So we're approximately an hour south of Seattle. I'm not sure if we're going to get another hotel after that ... or drive a little while and get one. But it's in the cards to get another hotel tonight. It has been a great trip so far. Everything seems to be working out in our favor because God is with us. Well, that's all, folks! Have a great night!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Vancouver

From Justin:

Vancouver was unreal! I did not realize how big and clean that city would be, but it was both. We went to this aquarium and spent most of the day there. It was in Stanley Park. The aquarium had all kinds of fish from the ocean, including sharks (even great whites), whales, sea otters, and many more. We saw some weird fish. There was this one called a sand eel. It would just sit there and look at you. It was weird. But it was really neat to see all of them. They did a lot of wheeling me around. Afterwards, we went over this huge bridge and looked at the river/ocean. And we were extremely high up as we were leaving Vancouver. This was the first time I've ever been in Canada. It was well worth it. We also had ice cream where they make everything homemade, including milking their own cows. We saw the Alaska Ferry, even from Bellingham. Uncle Rick makes great salmon, too.

My hair is coming back a little! I look like a balding, middle-aged guy. My uncle says that he takes offense to that. So far the trip has been a real peach. It's supposed to be 56 degrees tomorrow in Washington. We're heading down to Seattle tomorrow. Well, that's all, folks!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday (Part 2)

From Justin:

Hello everybody. Phase 1 is completed. We made it all the way to Bellingham, but we have not yet begun our journey with Uncle Rick. We are heading to Vancouver tomorrow to spend the day. I can't wait to get up there. I hope it's everything it's cracked up to be. There has been a lot of driving so far, but we're going to be darn skippy to put it behind us. Obviously, there is a lot more, though. We're in to have a good night with Uncle Rick. Well, that's all, folks!

Thursday

From Justin:

We're 240 miles from Bellingham, so we should be there in about three hours. I'm going to take a nap now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wednesday (Part 3)

From Justin:

We have made it all the way to Washington State after 27 hours straight of driving. It wears you out big time, even if you're just riding. We're staying tonight in Spokane. We're going to leave tomorrow morning, but we're darn happy to make it to Washington tonight. I hope everybody has a great night. Well, that's all, folks!

Wednesday (Part 2)

From Justin:

We were heading through North Dakota, but now we're making our way through Montana. We just passed through Billings. There has been a little bit of snow, but not too bad. Happy Valentines Day to everyone from your traveling crew!

Wednesday

From Justin:

We're off like a herd of turtles on our trip. We're in North Dakota right now -- in the middle of nowhere. We're heading out to the Great Northwest. We have no projected arrival time, but we're making our way to Washington. We already got in four games of Skip-Bo. I lost three of them, but it was still fun. The ride has been a little bumpy so far, which is difficult for me because of my balance. But I'm figuring that out, so it is what it is. It was great to hear from my cousins in Iraq on Sunday, even though I may have been short and sweet, but I love talking to them. Nothing new happened today. Brent, Kim, Jon, and I had a great talk last night. That was very beneficial. They helped me cope with the subject of everlasting life. I hope everybody has a great night. Thank you all for your support and positive energy! Well, that's all, folks!

Monday, February 12, 2007

TODAY WAS GOOD DAY...

TOMORROW WE LEAVE ON OUR TRIP. SO THAT'LL BE NICE. I HAD ABOUT 2 BILLION PEOPLE STOP BY TONIGHT. IT WAS NICE TO SEE EVERYONE. HOWEVER, I GOT REALLY WORN OUT. WELL THAT'S ALL FOLKS!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

AN INVASION...

IN THE BEST WAY. TONIGHT THE CRAVE GROUP STOPPED BY TO SEE US OFF ON OUR TRIP, THEY ALSO CAME BEARING GIFTS. IT WAS VERY NICE OF THEM. THE PLAN IS TO GO SEATTLE FIRST, AND SPEND SOMETIME WITH BRIT. THE HEAD TO BELLINGHAM YO SPEND TIME WITH UNCLE RICKY. NEXT WE ARE PLANNINGS ON GOING TO GO TO VANCOUVER. RUMOR HAS IT IT'S BEAUTIFUL CITY. THEN WE ARE OFF TO SAN FRAN NEXT TO SEE THE SIGHTS THERE. THEN WITH WITH QUICK STOP THROUGH VEGAS, WE'LL BE OFF TO THE GRAND CANYON. THEN BACK UP THROUGH CO ABD OVER KA TO SEE THE FAM. SO, THAT'LL BE VERY NICE. EARLIER TODAY NY COUSINS CALLED FROM IRAQ. IT WAS GOOD TO HEAR FROM THEM AS WELL. WE PRAY FOR THEM NIGHTLY. I LOVE THEM A LOT. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

IT'S BEEN A GREAT WEEKEND...

MY PEOPS FROM CO ARE IN TOWN. IT'S BEEN GREAT HAVING THEM ALL HERE. IT IS NICE TO SEE TOM AND TO MEET HIS LADY. I SAW A HOLE BUNCH OF FRIENDS TODAY AND THAT WAS FUN AS WELL. ON TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY WE LEAVE FOR OUR ROAD TRIP. TOM WILL BE IN TOWN UNTIL TOMORROW, THEN THEY'LL BE BACK IN CO. WELL THAT'S ALL FOLKS.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Update (Friday)

I just wanted to post a message and let everyone know that Justin is now back home and resting. He left the hospital this morning. The doctors said that it would be OK if he left for his trip on Wednesday, so that's the plan right now. Hopefully Justin will be posting soon. Keep the positive energy and prayers flowing for Team Justin!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

LATELY...

NOTHING NEW IS GOING ON. TONIGHT I BELIEVE THE GOPHERS WILL PLAY IN BASKETBALL AND WE ARE 1 WEEK FROM OUR TRIP. MY BLOOD COUNTS HAVE BEEN REALLY GOOD AND I HAVE BEEN FEELING GREAT. I AM SUPPOSE TO GET OUT OF THE HOSPITAL ON FRIDAY. HAVE A GREAT DAY!!

JJ

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BIG P ACK NEWS...

I FORGOT TO MENTION IT IS HUGE FOR THE PACKERS TO HAVE BRETT FAVRE BACK FOR 2007!! GO PACK!!

Monday, February 05, 2007

I found out that we'll still be able to go on our vacation; however, now we are backing it up a step and I'm worried about getting better. My trip depends on how healthy I stay. Hopefully I'll be 100% healthly the whole trip and return the same.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superbowl

It was actually a closer game than the score really indicated although the Bears were never really in it. Today was a good day all around. Yesterday I felt like junk and just wanted to sit here and try to feel better. I was on the breathing machine all night, and although it was very loud today my breathing is better so it was beneficial. Today I have felt normal and my breathing is good but we are going to do one more night on the breathing machine to ensure I am better. I feel a lot better - I even look better according to individuals that have seen me, i.e., my parents. My voice is even getting better since I am not short of breath. Now when I cough my whole chest doesn't hurt. Our trip will be postponed slightly since I am not sure how long I will be in these walls. Grandpa Bernie is helping us find a wonderful motor home to use for our trip. Please pray for a safe trip for us with great weather. Hope you all have fantastic plans coming up, and have a great night.

Update (Sunday)

Justin is still resting comfortably. It looks like he'll be in the hospital until midweek, so his trip out West has been delayed until the following week. Justin can't take calls yet, but I will post a message when he can. Thanks to everyone for the continued support! Keep the positive energy and prayers flowing for Team Justin!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Another Update (Late Saturday)

I just wanted to give another quick update. Justin is resting more comfortably. His oxygen levels are coming up. It appears that the antibiotics (that he's taking to help his lungs) are working. He's also eating a little bit. Hopefully the 'team captain' will be back posting soon! Keep the positive energy and prayers flowing for Team Justin!

Update (Saturday)

I just wanted to update everyone on Justin's condition. I just spoke with Justin's father, Don. Justin had shortness of breath early this morning, so he was rushed to the emergency room at the hospital (Fairview University). He has fluid buildup in his lungs, so he's taking antibiotics. It is suspected that he has pneumonia. Justin's phone has been ringing nonstop today, so thanks so much to everyone for all the support! The support from family and friends has been amazing. Justin can't take calls right now, unfortunately, but I will try to post to let everyone know when he can. Please keep praying! Thanks!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday

One day after I got the bad news I have had a great day. Not sure why but happy about it. We are starting to plan our trip out west. It should be a lot of fun. I'll try to keep up with the blog on the trip. Well nothing so if there is I'll post if not I won't post.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

MEETING WITH DOCTORS ON THURSDAY

Today I met with the doctors and things went as well as I expected. Not good. As I had already known the radiation and oral chemo shrunk my cancer in parts of the spine and maintained everything in the brain and lower spine. However, although this sounds pretty good it is not. My cancer is not going away. They can maintain where it is at for a while, however, it is going to eventually get worse and ultimately lead to my demise. We do not know how long this will be. This is not good. Next week my mom, bob, dad, vicky and me are all setting out in the motor home (a rental) and heading to the great northwest in the form of Vancouver, Seattle, Washington, San Franciscco, The Grand Canyon. I know some of these aren't in the great northwest, but deal with it. All these are major cities that I have never been too, and they are cities with friends and family located in them. Thus, we will be making many stops on this road trip to say hi to many of my friends. So watch out if you are on the way. I am really looking forward to this roadtrip, however, it is weird not knowing how much time I have left, and not knowing how much time I have here on God's green earth. Make sure if you have any questions, post them here, and I hope you are all having a great day.

That's all folks!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MEETING TODAY

TODAY IS A BIG DAY FOR US. AT 10 TODAY WE MEET WITH THE DOCTORS TO GET THEIR OPINIONS ON WHAT THEY RECOMMEND NEXT, AND WHAT AND WHY THEY RECOMMEND WHAT THEY DO. FURTHERMORE, WE ARE GOING TO GET TOUGH ON THIS CHEMO AND DO SOME DAMAGE. OUR HOPE IS THAT NO MATTER WHAT IS RECOMMENDED, IT'LL BE HELPFUL IN THE END. WE KNOW THE ODDS HAVEN'T MOVED MUCH, BUT WE NEED TO BEAT THEM. SO LET'S GO TEAM JUSTIN. HAVE A GREAT DAY!!

Jim Valvano ESPY Awards Speech 1993

Jimmy was a big figure in the sports world as an announcer, coach and player. Here is an amazing speech he gave shortly before his death. Due to copyright laws, YouTube has removed this video. I apologize that it's no longer available.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

TUESDAY = GOOD, WHERE TO NOW...

I FOUND OUT YESTERDAY THAT THERE IS NOT A NEED TO CONTINUE RADIATION AS IT HAS CAUSED ME DIARRHEA AND PUT ME IN DISCOMFORT FOR A WEEK. SO WHEN THEY CONSIDERED WHAT I WAS GOING THROUGH THEY KNEW THE RADIATION WASN'T SHRINKING THE CANCER ENOUGH TO KEEP GOING. THAT'S WHY ITS BEEN DISCONTINUED. EVERYTHING ELSE SO FAR HAS THIS WEEK BEEN GREAT. THE SUPER BOWL IS COMING SUNDAY, UFC SATURDAY AND I HAVE VISITORS NONSTOP ALL WEEK. MY LOVING AUNTIE IS IN TOWN FROM WINONA STAYING WITH US, THEN OTHERS HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE IN AND OUT ALL WEEK. NOT TOO MUCH ACTION BUT JUST ENOUGH. TOMORROW THE STATE APPOINTS A PERSONAL CARE ATTENDANT TO ME, SHE'LL BE CALLED, "WANNA BE ANDY." SHE IS AN INTERN STILL A STUDENT. NOT THE EXPERIENCE LEVEL OF ANDY, BUT WHAT CAN YA DO. OH YA SO ON THURSDAY WE'LL KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT'S NEXT FOR ME. JUST TO LET EVERYONE KNOW IF THIS CHEMO DOES NOT WORK OUT I AM OUT OF OPTIONS. THAT'S ALL. THIS TIME THEY DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER DOOR TO OPEN. SO LETS KEEP THE POSITIVE ENERGY FLOWING AND HAVE A GREAT NIGHT.

Monday, T-Wolves win!! Wow!!

There ended up being no decision to make as my medical staff discontinued the radiation. This decision was really weighing on me. It was nice to have my mind made for me. Now I have a similar to make with the chemo. Can my body handle it? Anyhow, my bro and the fam left today. I miss him greatly. He's great guy. My auntie is staying with me tonight. The rest of the day I just got caught up on rest. I needed it too. Man I was tired. Well have a great day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

TODAY MY FRIENDS F/CO DEPARTED MN, TOMORROW MY BRO, WIFE AND BOYS ARE LEAVING AS WELL ....

EVERYONE IS HEADING HOME TO EVENTUALLY GET BACK IN THEIR ROUTINES. I'LL BE LEFT WITH A DIFFERENT DECISION. I FOUND OUT I COULD CONTINUE RADIATION HOWEVER, MY BLOOD COUNTS STRUGGLING TO RECOVER SO I AM NOT SURE THIS IS THE BEST DECISION. FOR ME THE QUESTION WOULD BE WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? ULTIMATELY, I'LL HAVE A LOT WEIGH, BUT I'LL TAKE MY TIME AND HOPEFULLY MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION. I AM PRETTY DARN CONFIDENT WITH THE LORD ON AND ALL OF YOU ON MY TEAM.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Things could be on the up and up!

I had a brain and spinal MRI on Thursday. Things went well, but we did not have the results for the brain portion of the MRI when we left the hospital on Friday. The cancer has been reduced in the upper part of the spine, which was encouraging to us all! After so many disappointments this was great news! It does not appear to be affecting the lower part of the spine, which would have been great, but kinda unrealistic.....which the Dr. told us. Sorry I haven't blogged in the last couple of days, I have had a lot of company in town the last couple of days. Once things slow down around here I'll put a few more posts up.......Until then they will be kinda sparatic. Have a great day and I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Working with others

I hope you all consider us a team, because right now I depend on each and every one of you. First I want to thank everyone for the support you offer when you are with me, and the support you offer when you are not around. I hope you all have fun when you come to visit me. I love seeing all of you but sometimes I need my rest. The treatments and meds really wear me out and sometimes I just need to sleep. It's taking a lot for me to let people know that they don't need to stay with me. I will let you know if I am too tired. With what I am going through I often become too tired and need to take a little nap. I hope none of you take offense to this. Thanks again for all of your support and keep the positive energy in the room.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Doctors wanted to start my chemo yesterday but my blood counts have been really low lately. The second straight day my blood counts dropped. Also some key counts of mine are not getting better. They are thinking about postponing chemotherapy until at least Monday and see where my blood counts are at that time. As for I - I would like to get started on the chemo asap, but it won't be that bad because my brother and his family, and some friends of mine from Colorado will be coming in on Thursday and staying for the weekend. This should be a very busy weekend and I can't wait to see all you guys. I am still doing my radiation, but they may postpone it after tomorrow because they would like to see some advancements in my blood counts. Tomorrow after radiation I am having a full spine and head MRI to see how the cancer in my brain and spine are responding to radiation. They are hoping that my spine has been improving through the radiation and again that the cancer in my brain is not getting worse. The MRI should show this. If the spine is getting better and the brain looks good (ideal) they will keep the same treatment in place. If things are looking better, but I am still having issues with balance, strength, and vision then they are going to postpone radiation and go with chemotherapy. If the spine is showing advancement but the brain is not they are going to switch from radiation to chemotherapy. If both the spine and the brain are regressing, then all the doctors will get together and decide what the next step will be. Thus, I may or may not be in the hospital tomorrow night. We'll see what the day brings. If you are planning on visiting me be sure to call first. Andrew, thanks again for your terrific blog - I can't wait to be able to view it - but it must be terrific by the feedback. Hope you all have a great night and thank you for your support.

More waiting around...

As most of you know the hospital really wears your patience. That was no more evident then today. I got in for radiation right away. So that went well. Then I got into my room right away. Still no waiting yet. Then they took me out of the room I was in, because I had my room ready. However, the kid who was in the room didn't come back to get him. So he sat in the room for almost 4 hours, which meant I sat in the waiting room for almost 4 hours. I had 3 visitors in the waiting room. My Ma and I played a bunch a Skip-Bo while we waited. At this point I got diarrhea and my bathroom wasn't available to me. Moreover, the bathroom wasn't right in the corner it was a ways down the hall. Have a great day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Friday's results...

We've got the results from Friday back today, and they're indifferent. There are a few new spots in my brain (we were hoping for nothing too harsh). But the Doc does not feel that these (because of location) will have anything to do with balance, vision or strength issues. Tentatively I am going to begin chemotherapy soon, and I am that not sure when that will be. They are thinking possibly tomorrow. I believe that's what they are going to try next, because the sooner we get some results from chemo. Keep on praying, love yall. Hace a great night.

Testimonial....

Hey all,

Just so everyone knows after I woke up a long nap and I felt alright, earlier my back was hurting severely, my tummy not feeling well eithet. Sorry I had to cancel tonight, I just want to feel better when I do this. I was really looking forward to it, so I can do it any other night. Just so everyone knows I did not give my testimonial today as I didn't feel well. It is tentatively rescheduled for next Sunday. Well have a great night.

JJ

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Friday and Saturday

Sorry I haven't gotten this out to you sooner. I have had some computer problems the last few days. I did the MRI on Friday and it will probably be Monday before we find out the results. They probably had them Friday night but none of my doctors are around on the weekend. My vision continues to get worse, wheras I think my strength is getting better.

All in all the MRI went really fast and really well, but every time I crawl up in that little tube it seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Tomorrow night I give my testimonial and I am filled with excitement along with nervous energy even though I am sure it will go really well and I have done this before, I am still really nervous. I wish you all could be here to see my testimonial tomorrow. Have a great night.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friday and beyond ...

Tomorrow I am doing another MRI in hopes that they'll uncover something leading to my weakness, balance, and most of all sight issues. I hope they have a plan soon because my vision has been getting poor (this is very difficult to explain, I cannot explain this, so please don't ask). On Sunday I am giving my faith testimonial. I have done this before; however, many things have changed with my faith since. This will be a lot of fun on Sunday. The radiations have gone well and that's all folks.

Sorry I haven't gotten around to posting lately ...

I've been busy with friends and relatives visiting. Also, my uncle Rick just left town yesterday ... and my brother was in town the weekend before, so I've been exhausted. It was great to see everybody. I can't wait until we can all do it again. Radiation has gone as planned. My vision is still poor, as is my strength. However, I've been feeling really well and have no explanation for this, nor do the doctors. Rick left town yesterday just after five in the afternoon ... and I got a chance to see a lot of relatives that I hadn't seen in a while or that I just wanted to see this weekend. So thank you all for coming out. My brother and his family are supposed to be back in a couple of weeks, so that should be a nice treat as well. And as you can all see, I should have some friends coming in from Colorado as well, and that too should be a treat. Hope you all have a great day. I'll do my best to get back on here as soon as anything cool happens.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yesterday and today....

Things are going really well physically. I've been feeling great, however, my strength, vision and balance have been getting worse since this last August. They are not as bad as they were after the August 1, 2005 surgery. However, just this week in the house I have started using the wheelchair and a hospital bed.
Hopefully with the 16 sessions of radiation I'm going to build my strength, balance and vision back up to not needing the wheelchair or hospital bed.
I've never talked about my emotional side. The main thing that gets on my nerves from time to time is simply when I make a suggestion and individuals take offense to it. Please don't take offense to this. I'm only making a suggestion to protect myself from harm.
If you have any questions on anything don't be afraid to ask. I will do my best to answer them. None of us have ever been through this so we are blind.
Have a great night.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Good info, some worthless...

I hope we'll all pray for the military. I guess I have a lot at stake over there, so the extended stay of many troops makes me sad cause it just means it'll be a little longer before I can see them. Love you gals. By the way I try not impose my opinion to others. My uncle is going back in April, but we should all be praying for our troops safety. I feel its best to always pray for our troops, safe return, liberating Iraq, and protecting us. Thank you. On a lighter side the Kyle, my bro, and my uncle Tim went out to spread manure on the field. However, Tim hooked the hydro's up backwards and they both got doused in cow manure. Tim was really pissed off; however, Kyle was just too young. A lot more family this with weekend. I don't have any radiation until Monday and fam here this weekend I may not have time to post.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More radiation...

I had my 3rd radiation treatment. It has been going pretty well. I have been getting tired lately, but that could be caused by me staying up at night dinking around on the laptop. Last night a bunch friends came over. It was a lot of fun. I was planning on having them all over, but I had ask them all to leave. Then, today I had six relatives over to see me. So again I was really blessed. The treatment yesterday went well and so did today. Last time radiation seemed pretty tiring toward the end. Stay in touch. Keep those positive vibes migrating this way, have a great night.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Start of radiation... take two.

Well today I started radiation, again. I haven't been back visit other then the to see Tony in a year and a few months. I have been staying up late lately, so I have slept right thru everything. However, the first real day went well. Then and I am not sure how beneficial this is because I forgot to ask, but they looked at my old chart incorrectly, so instead of having 10 days of radiation I have 16 days. They did more before in other places. So I did that and you'll never believe it, but I like shopping at Target and Walmart. So Mas and I shopped the clearances pretty hard. We won!! Then we went home and crashed. Well everyone have a great night and syanara everyone!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday...

I got all set up for radiation, but I'll start it tomorrow at 8:30am. They do a simulation first which just sets up the treatment. My doc decided we didn't need to start today. In case we have confusion, with the last blog I was given 2 options, basically they are one in the same. 1 we do chemo then radiation, or radiation first with chemo the latter. The smaller we get the cancer before we start the radiation the better. However, this wasn't really an option to wait as my neurological functions are worsening rapidly. Although the radiation is riskier with more cancer there, we figured it may further down the road that I'll see the effects. We are hoping that first some of my functions start coming back soon. We are hoping for a lot of things, but that is the first thing. If I took chemo first, the risk of nerve damage would go way down, however, my neurological functions will take a lot longer to improve with the chemo. So that is the trade off. Please keep for us in in our corner. Take care JJ.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Today...

I got my options today and I would say things are about as I expected, not good. Basically, I went from an 80% chance, which the BBBD provided which was affective in the brain, however not in my spine.it couldn't get low enough for me and thhe cancer built up in my spine. So my options would be starting chemo now, and radiation later or radiation now and chemo later. My chances are at 10% now, which means there is a 10% of ridding myself of the cancer itself now. Ultimately, if we do not kill the cancer at some point it will kill me. Scary huh? So that stinks. Hopefully if I can even buy a little time good things may happen. The good news is Jesus called and he is waiting for JJ's arrival at some point. Don't worry we're not giving, its like a man smarter than myself once said "if there's fight left in the dog let'em fight." Myself, my family, my friends, God and the medical staff we're ready for a war. The longer we wait on the radiation the less risky things are. However, the radiation could kill s Or the option I think I am going to go with is radiation now and chemo later. This is a little riskier, because eventual there could be spinal nerve damage. However that may be years away, or never... hopefully. The prob with the chemo now is it may take longer for my neurological functions to come back, which are a problem now. So the sooner they come back will matter. The radiation should take affect now, it just has potential problems down the road. I think I'll worry about the here and now for a while through. Thoughts and prayers appreciated. Don't be afraid to ask any questions you have. Have a great night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Big Day...

Nothing really happened today, but tomorrow is a big day in that we learn our next options. I am nervous. Today I did see grandpa and grandma, Tim and Kay, Brendan, Cheryl and Cole all relatives, yesterday a bunch of friends stopped by. The list there is long. My bro is still in town and I couldn't be happier if I was a puppy with 2 peters. He's coming with tomorrow to hear what could be scary stuff. It'll be a lot easier with him there. Keep those prayers rolling in and I'll keep yall posted.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

One day...

One day removed things seemed a lot better, Thursday night we had our playoff fantasy football draft, then the big news my bro flew in town tonight. I found out he was on his way and I got really excited. Couldn't even concentrate. Which right now is a good thing. The start tomorrow, so tonight went really well, no tears. Kyle is in until Tuesday, so I'll have a lot of time to spend with him. Thanks Lord, it's great to see him. Right the more I keep my mind off the bad news the better or easier it is for me. It ain't easy to keep this ole bird down. Ally leave Randy alone, he's not a nut bird, oh what ya he is too, a big one too. Sorry Randy, but we all know it. Well everyone lets keep the prayer and positive energy keep flowing and God'll send that stupid chemo packing love yall!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bad News...

As if things couldn't get worse, I found out the cancer is getting worse in my spine, but mostly gone in my brain. Anyhow, we are not going to do the BBBD anymore, it's not getting the spine. So on Monday they'll try to figure out a new plan, it's back to the drawing board. Hopefully the next plan works better. This afternoon has been full of tears, not the news I wanted. Life goes on. I'll have more on Monday, til then lots of prayer appreciated.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good Day for Minnesota basketball...

First the Gophers won their Big Ten opener then the T-Wolves upset the Spurs. Wow! My MRI went well but we won't hear results until tomorrow. So wish me luck. Keep praying. All God's accepted. I'll post as soon as I hear anything. Good night.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Today was one bad day...

My weakness has been going downhill for some time now and today it hit a low. Tomorrow I got an MRI to try to figure out what's going on. Hopefully they find something. I'll know late tomorrow. Today was the first time Andy couldn't hold me up. I mean my strength has gotten really bad. So pray please, I'll need it.