By Tyson Lautenschlager // Elmira Independent // April 23, 2014
The entire Elmira District Secondary School came together as a community last week to support a fellow Lancer who was set to have surgery to remove the tumour in his tibia bone on Thursday, April 10.
Colton Kuepfer is a Grade 10 student at EDSS. Kuepfer is an athletic student who loves participating in sports, particularly soccer.
When the diagnosis came and the family found out Colton had osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, it was a very emotional time for the Kuepfer family.
“The official diagnosis was on Dec. 24, 2013, on Christmas Eve,” said Holly Kuepfer, Colton’s mom. “The doctor had told us on Dec. 8, that she was 99 per cent sure the tumour was cancerous, without even doing a biopsy,” Kuepfer continued. “We still had that one per cent glimmer of hope to hold onto, and we had hoped our doctor was wrong, so when we got the call, it was very emotional for us.”
Colton and his family were given a choice; they could either do a below-the-knee amputation, or reconstruct the tibia limb, which would ultimately remove his ankle. In the end, the decision was made to go ahead with the amputation.
“With my age being 15 and being very athletic, doing the amputation gave me more options,” said Colton. “A reconstructed limb didn’t really give me the options of being able to continue playing sports. With a prosthetic, I can still play sports, even if it’s not at a professional level.”
On April 10, the day of Colton’s surgery, EDSS looked like a sea of blue. A majority of the students wore blue to support Colton, and the school was decorated in a vast number of blue ribbons, all of which are still hanging up around the school. Students used the hashtag “#projectblue” on both Twitter and Facebook to get the word out and show their support.
“The support gives me hope,” said Colton. “It’s amazing to know that I’m not alone in this. At first, I didn’t know if I even wanted to go back to school after the amputation. I wasn’t ready to have people staring at me, but it’s great to know everyone is still supporting me.”
The outpouring support that has come from both the community and the school has really helped Colton and his entire family get through this.
“Prayers are great,” said Colton. “Any kind of support helps. Spread the word, continue to put up the blue ribbons, give encouraging words.”
For more information on Colton and his journey, you can visit the Facebook group set up for him titled, “Colton’s Journey”. It is an open group, so anyone who wants to show their support can join.