Comeback journey

After a trying year of challenges, Luke Moore is grateful to friends and the community for the support that helped him endure his battle against Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. The scar on his right knee is from the surgery to remove the tumor behind his knee and replace inches of his tibia with 4-inch titanium rod. The shirt he is wearing was created by friends with the theme: ?Together We Fight.?One year ago, Luke Moore?s world was in the process of turning upside-down.

In May 2013, the three-sport athlete and honor student at Hills?boro High School completed his first year at Greenville (Ill.) College, who had awarded him a football scholarship.

Bothered by some knee pain during spring drills, Moore went to a sports medicine specialist when he returned home for the summer. The specialist initially confirmed the family?s suspicion?tendinitis?but scheduled an MRI scan to be sure.

The scan revealed something far more troubling: a tissue mass growing just below the knee. A second MRI three days later lent credence to his doctor?s suspicion: Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer.

The diagnosis was officially confirmed June 24 by doctors at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, where Moore had been assigned for more tests.

At age 19, Moore was facing the most serious opponent of his life.

Now, 12 months later, having battled through the physical and emotional rigors of chemotherapy, major surgery and a serious infection with the same dedication that made him a successful student-athlete, Team Moore is winning the contest.

His cancer is in remission and doctors believe he will make a complete recovery with no physical limitations.

Luke Moore?s world may be turning right-side-up again, but it will never look the same as it once did.

?Before, when I heard someone was diagnosed with cancer and doing chemo, I wouldn?t even think about it,? he said. ?It was like, that?s too bad. Now it?s, ?Oh, somebody has cancer; I know what goes into that.??

The battle begins

What goes into battling cancer is rarely easy, starting with the initial diagnosis.

?When I first heard it, it didn?t hit me,? Moore said. ?I felt fine. Even my leg. I could do all things, even if it hurt sometimes. I felt fine.?

Seeing the response of family and friends?even complete strangers?to the diagnosis was an early signal of what lay ahead.

?It?s almost like, in a way, sitting on your death bed,? he said of those first days at home. ?It wasn?t that dire, but you?re just sitting there and people would come visit me. Some people were crying.

?For me, I was still pretty upbeat until my first round of chemo happened, and I think that?s where it hit me.?

The first of 17 prescribed chemotherapy treatments was administered Friday, July 8, 2013, in Kansas City. Nausea and heart burn followed?a difficult challenge for someone who had enjoyed good health all his life.

?I think there was one point where I was like, I really don?t want to be here anymore,? Moore said. ?That was the first time in my life I ever considered something like that. But Saturday I was OK again.?

Moore soon became familiar with the roller-coaster ride as treatments continued.

?Throughout the whole thing it was like…chemotherapy kind of brings you down, then you?re back up again, and then it?s the time for the next chemotherapy. It was tough.?

After an initial four rounds of chemo, Moore underwent surgery to remove the cancerous mass from his knee.

?They removed about 4 inches of my tibia, then put a titanium rod in the place of it,? he said.

The surgical team then removed three major ligaments in his knee and then took a muscle from behind his knee and wrapped it around the front of it to add support to the area.

After a five-week break from chemo following the surgery, Moore began the treatments again. After one of them, he returned to Hillsboro only to face his biggest challenge yet.

?I got home and my leg was swollen pretty good and I had a fever,? he said. ?But I didn?t feel that bad, really.?

His parents, Jim and Donna Moore, first took their son to Hillsboro Com?munity Hospital. The medical team diagnosed an infection and sent Luke on to the specialists at KU Cancer Center.

?I was in the hospital 10 days because I would spike a fever and get sick?my body was fighting the infection,? Moore said.

His surgeon had told him earlier that infection was the one caveat that could lead to amputation.

?I was terrified,? Moore said. ?I was asking the doctors, am I going to lose my leg? I was dealing with a lot of different doctors. So it was like, OK, I?m losing my leg. I even told my parents I want (the titanium implant) taken out. I wanted to remove it because I just didn?t want to deal with it.

?They said, ?No, that?s not going to happen.??

Moore left the hospital with a catheter hooked to a source of antibiotics, a treatment he continued for six weeks before resuming his chemotherapy plan.

?I finished out fine,? he said. ?My last day of chemo?therapy was May 12.?

Even in remission, Moore will continue to undergo routine scans in Kansas City every three or four months to check his progress.

Last week, Moore finished a routine of physical therapy five days a week at Hillsboro Community Hos?pital to help him regain mobility. He soon will begin sessions in the therapy pool at St. Luke Hospital in Marion.

?That will help get me to the next stage,? Moore said. ?So I?m not done with physical therapy yet.?

Supportive community

As Moore looks back over the past year, he?s quick to express appreciation for the strong support of friends and his home community.

Three of those friends?Jesse Allen, Grant Shewey and Tyler Ediger?and their parents organized a community fundraiser for Moore last July.

?I think 500 people showed up,? he said. ?I?m not sure how much they raised, but they were running out of food?they had to run out and get more.?

Moore is still amazed by the number of people?many of whom he didn?t even know?who offered financial support and words of encourage?ment.

?The support system was just outstanding?I couldn?t have gotten through it without it?especially my mom and dad,? he added. ?They were there for every step. They saw the worst of everything. I don?t know that I could ever repay them for that.?

Also on the list are former teachers and administrators at Hills?boro High School, his church family at Parkview, and local therapists Amber Monson and Tara Hiebert who understood ?some days I was just super discouraged and (they) would always cheer me up.?

Even the football coach Moore passed over during college recruitment?Mike Gardener from Tabor College?stepped up.

?He brought me into his office and said, ?I want you to help out this year at Tabor,?? Moore recalled. ?I thought I would be able to help more, but I wasn?t able to. I didn?t know all that went into (treatment). But he still took the time for me. That was pretty awesome.

?You don?t realize how much support you have until something like this happens.?

Divine involvement

Moore said he owes his greatest debt of gratitude to another Provider.

?I couldn?t have done this without God,? he said.

As a demonstration of solidarity, Moore and some friends made bracelets with the slogan ?Together We Fight;? they also printed T-shirts that refer to a Bible verse that has become Moore?s favorite:

??My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.? Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ?s power may rest on me? (2 Cor. 12:9).

Rather than turning his world upside-down, Moore said the verse actually has helped him to see his world more clearly now.

?I thought by being healthy I was going to be this incredible influence for Christ,? he said. ?Only God knows the impact this (health battle) has had. Some people have come up to me and said, ?You?re such an inspiration.? But I didn?t do anything. I just got cancer and I survived.

?I think it?s awesome that God can take my weakest moment in my whole life, and somehow I believe he?s going to use it for good,? he added. ?I don?t understand it right now. I may never understand it. I just hope people get it?that even though you?re weak, God still can use you.?

Moore plans to return to Greenville College this fall and help with the football program there?even though it?s possible he may never again don the pads and play the game he loves.

?My plan was to play (in college) and graduate?and then your life gets turned upside-down,? Moore said. ?But it?s OK. Some?how God is going to use that. It?s above me, that?s for sure.?

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