Sick boy's surgery a success

Justin Stegemann's surgery to remove a neuroblastoma from his adrenal glands was more intense than initially anticipated.

But according to his father, David, he came through it like a trooper. Justin is 13 years old and lives in Gardnerville with his family.

"The surgery was scheduled for six hours, but it turned out to be about nine," Stegemann said. "But Justin feels great this morning; everything went real good."

Stegemann said Justin was not concerned or worried going into the surgery Tuesday morning, but was very confident.

Doctors informed his father that Justin's surgery was "life-threatening."

"That's why we're here," Stegemann told the doctor. "If it were routine, we'd be at Carson-Tahoe Hospital."

The surgery took place at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Justin and David are expected to be in New York for about one year for follow-up treatment.

Stegemann said the doctor located the root tumor on the adrenal gland. The cancer had grown between two veins on a kidney, and had also "spidered" its way into surrounding lymph nodes, which were also removed.

"I've gotten pretty good at reading the faces of the doctors and when this guy came out from surgery, he looked like he had just won the Daytona 500. I knew everything was OK," Stegemann said. "He hit a home run."

Stegemann said Justin's only complaint is a sore shoulder, caused from his positioning on the table for the lengthy surgery.

"Wendy (Justin's mom) spent the night with him, and Alicia stayed with me at my uncle's home. My sisters Judy, Jennifer and Helen bought tickets for Wendy and Alicia to be here for the surgery."

Stegemann said Justin was "cool as a cucumber" prior to his surgery. "He was more cool than me and my wife," he joked.

Justin will be in recovery until Monday, when he will begin immunotherapy for one week. Stegemann hopes then to get Justin enrolled into school.

"The second week he will begin chemotherapy," Stegemann said.

Stegemann said he received a text message from a friend that said "keep your prayers and thoughts."

"Justin needed it, and he came through," he said. "Everyone's prayers have helped."


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