Courage, bravery, heroic. These words get bantered about by so many, so easily that their meaning begins to be cheapened. That's too bad because few words can better describe Joseph Feely and his Family.
Joseph Feely was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in January of 2010. It is a rare form of bone cancer and Joseph's suffering from a subcategory of Ewing Sarcoma that is also rare known as PNET (primitive neuroectodermal tumor).
I had the privilage and honor of interviewing both Joseph and his equally heroic Mom, Karen Feeley.
His fight with cancer started while Joseph was at Liberty University playing for the baseball team there. Joseph is an outsanding athlete. I've known about him for his cross country exploites (All-State 4 years), but I found out that baseball (All-State 2 years) is his first love and that is what he chose to participate in in college.
Joseph received many collegiate scholarship offers for running, however, he opted to accept a Division I scholarship offer from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.
His mother told me of the time when he was 4 years old and wanted to play baseball, but the league age was 5, so one day he went to take a nap and then he came out of his room to tell his family, "I talked with God and He told me that I am old enough to play baseball and I don't have to take naps anymore!"
That moment probably encapsulates best Joseph's current fight against cancer, his faith in God and his competititve drive!
While at Liberty he began to feel pain in his hip and lower back. The athletic trainers at Liberty and he thought that it was some kind of sports injury, so they treated it with the usual strengthening, stretching, and icing routines that most athletes would do for a sports related injury, but the pain persisted.
Later, Joseph transfered to Frostburg University looking for more playing time. At Frostburg, the pain really escalated! Eventually, while at home one day, the pain was so excruciating that he crawled into his parents room on his hands and knees in tears.
As all true athletes can relate, being competitive, physically strong and young, we try to fight through pain and injuries, and if you know Joseph you know that he is a tough dude, so if the pain got that bad, you can guess that that was the moment that they realized that this "injury" was something far more serious.
After MRI's and several tests the Feeley family finally had an answer to what was wrong...cancer! Ewings Sarcoma. If that sounds familiar, then you are probably a sports fan, particular football and have seen the story of Mark Herlich of Boston College (now playing for the New York Football Giants). He too struggled in a fight against Ewing Sarcoma though his type of Sarcoma was operable and more treatable then Joseph's. Mark has sent a letter and other things to Joseph during his struggle.
In fact, Joseph was told by his doctor on November 14th that they can't do anything more for him but manage his pain. Basically, a nice way of saying, "Go home and die."
For almost anyone, even the Feeleys, obviously devistating news to say the least, but unlike most families, The Feeleys have a faith and a faith community like few I've ever seen.
Joseph himself, bald from over 100 rounds of chemo therapy, 60 lbs lighter then when he was in his best athletic shape, well look you in the eyes and tell you without hesitation, "Just because you have cancer doesn't mean you stop living!"
For his character and determination one need look no further then his mother and father. They have passed on to their son a faith heritage and fighting spirit that is indominable! They all draw their strength and courage from Jesus Christ. They rely on Him daily through bible devotionals, prayer and encouragement from their fellow believers.