Faith and friends lifting Greencastle's Justin Grove family dealing with illness

PAT FRIDGEN
Justin and Bethany Grove with their daughters. As a self-employed contractor, Justin is not working while he battles a rare form of cancer.

The friends of Justin Grove are banding together to give back to a man they say has given so much to his church and community.

Grove, 33, was diagnosed in November with Mantle cell, a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It usually affects men around the age of 60, and there are only 3,000 new cases per year in the United States.

Self-employed with his wife Bethany (Riegsecker) in their business, J & B Custom Built Homes, Grove is not able to work while undergoing treatment. The couple has three young daughters.

Friends Gigi Yelton and Sarah Diller are two of the coordinators in planning fundraisers to help with medical expenses. They know the impact the couple has made on others through the years, especially youth.

“They served several terms as youth advisors, during which they led youth trips, opened their home and lives, and guided many youth through their tough teenage years. Their impact is easily witnessed in the number of those youth who still keep in touch with them,” said Diller. “They are a family of tremendous faith that I have no doubt will continue to bless others through this journey.”

Sudden symptoms

After a month of abdominal pain and viral symptoms, Grove went to the doctor in October. Time passed as specialists brushed off the seriousness of his increasing pain and insurance policy delayed particular tests. Finally the results were in with a Stage 4 diagnosis of an aggressive version of Mantle cell lymphoma. The Groves had referrals to two cancer treatment facilities, a center in Philadelphia or Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. They chose Hopkins.

“If that’s not God,” said Yelton. They were connected to a physician who had just completed a nine-year study on Mantle cell, and Chambersburg Hospital could perform the chemotherapy. “That was a blessing.”

Grove has undergone three chemotherapy sessions, which leave him weak, nauseous and tired. His pain is under control. Eventually he will spend a month at Hopkins when his own stem cells are harvested for a transplant.

He and Bethany are coping, Yelton said, “by relying on God for everything. They are taking it step by step. They have faith that God will provide.”

Financial aid

Several events are planned to offset out-of-pocket medical expenses. A snowtubing fundraiser is scheduled for 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 at Whitetail Ski Resort. Discounted tickets for one or two-hour tubing sessions will be sold to people with a Grove Family Fund Spirit Night card, which will be handed out near the register.

Details of future events may be tracked at www.jgrovefamily.net, which also allows financial support through Paypal.

Anyone wishing to contribute with a check may send it to: Justin Grove Family Support, c/o Sarah Diller, 1014 Kings Court, Greencastle, PA 17225. Questions may be emailed to sldiller@greencastle.k12.pa.us

People may follow Grove’s story online at  www.caringbridge.org/visit/justingrove

— By PAT FRIDGEN,

Echo Pilot