In 2019, we rode for 10 year old Justus Heise of Hokah, MN. Justus is a 4th grader who loves his family, his school/teacher, and being in nature. When feeling well, he likes going fishing, camping and swimming.
Justus officially became a “forever” member of the Heise family on April 10, 2014, two years after he first came to live with them. Natalie and Dave are high school sweethearts married for 34 years! They moved to Hokah from Iowa over 20 years ago. Natalie is Justus’ caregiver and Dave works in maintenance at Inland Printing on French Island.
In addition to Justus, their family includes 3 adult children, Jena, Nick and Jordon plus Marcy (15), CJ (14), Mikaylea (10) and Carter (9) (all adopted from foster care) and currently two foster sisters (6 and 4).
In December 2014, they took Justus to the ER with a fever and belly pain. An X-ray showed a small dot on his stomach. After more tests, they were given the news in the middle of the night they didn’t see coming…”We know what is wrong with your son, he has cancer.”
Justus was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor. He underwent surgery to remove his left kidney and began radiation and chemotherapy. By June of 2015, Justus was declared cancer free! Even though only 15% of children with Wilms experience a relapse, their joy was short lived.
In May of 2016, his cancer was back. Justus began treatments 2 days before the end of his 1st grade year. These were much more intense and frequent, lasting for 36 weeks. Upon completion he underwent a 13 hour surgery at the Children’s Hospital in Madison and by September 2017, he was once again cancer free.
Justus’ fight is not over. In October of 2018, his cancer returned and his doctors believe the best option for treatment is a Stem Cell Transplant. Justus’ cells have been harvested and he is currently undergoing chemo to kill the cancer in preparation for his transplant.
Natalie expressed, through tears, how grateful they are to be a part of Big Bikes. She emphasized how important it is for both patient and family to have something to look forward to.
Justus’ “wish” is for a 4-wheeler so he can continue to enjoy his love of the outdoors and get around easily. Thank you for joining our ride for a reason – the ride for Justus!