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Thursday, July 3, 2014

I never thought I would see that room again.

Today was a very productive day!  We went to 8 Hospitals and Urgent Cares and made contact with hundreds of Dr's and Nurses!  The last stop was one of the hardest and it did not go as well as I thought it would.  We went to the hospital that Justin was in.  I thought it was going to be just as the others.  Walk in, explain who we are and what we are doing and leave the items.  But I felt a tug at my heart.  I asked to speak with a lady that was there during Justin's stay and who's personal life we have helped during our fight.   Mrs. Mary came out to say hi and welcomed us by bringing over one of Justin's Dr's.  It brought back a flood of feelings seeing him and being in that hospital again.  You would think it would be sad, depressing feelings but for me it was proud, acceptance, love and a feeling that our family choose to do the right thing after Justin passed.  We could have just went on with our broken lives but we decided to stand up and not let his memory go!  We decided to stand up and fight and being there today showed me that we are doing the right thing!  His Dr showed us around the new PICU unit and how so many things are changing. (It is not even open yet.)  Everyone we ran into on that floor he would say "Do you remember Justin Rodgers?" It would take the person a minute but everyone he asked said yes they did!  Then he would continue to tell them who we were, why we were there today and to let all the new staff members know that we left items in the break room to teach them about Lemierre's.  His words were "Let them know about Justin's story. Make sure all the new staff members know about Lemierre's."  As he was showing us the new PICU unit we went through the same doors that we went through May 12th 2008, 6 years ago, to say goodbye.  We walked down the same hall as we did 6 years ago that night, then before I could even realize it we were standing in front of the same room that we stood in 6 years ago and watched my 17 year old, full of life before Lemierre's, brother fight a disease that not many people knew about.  As soon as I did realize it was that room I felt really proud of how far my family has come and how strong my family is for going through everything we went through.  I am very lucky to be a part of this family.  We are strong and extremely close and not everyone can say that about their family.  I receive emails all the time from family members fighting this disease I never thought when we started this Foundation it would come this far.  I thought maybe it would last a few years, we would hit a dead end and that is it.  It has gone so much further than I think any of us thought.  In the past 7 days 1,500 people have viewed our site.  We've spoken to so many Dr.'s & Nurses and they actually look to us for answers.  This Foundation or "Idea" that was given to us has been a blessing.  I can only speak for myself not my other family members but it has helped me in my grieving process too. 
Thank you for all the love and support everyone of you have given us in the past 6 years!    I hope and Pray this only gets bigger from here and one day everyone will know about Lemierre's just like they know about the other Infectious Diseases out there. 

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Justin's news article in the West Magazine

This was taken from

Rockwood student dies rapidly from little-known disease
By Diane Plattner

In April, Eureka High School student Justin Rodgers began to complain of a severe sore throat and was dead approximately one month later from an unfamiliar disease. Now, his mother hopes to spread awareness about the deadly disease.
Justin died in the early morning hours of May 12, the day after Mother’s Day, after losing a battle with Lemierre’s Syndrome, a serious bacteria that is not well-known and even doctors are prone to misdiagnose the disease. Unfortunately, Rodgers’ doctor was among that group after initially diagnosing him with strep throat on April 11, said Sheryl Rodgers, Justin’s mother.
“Justin had said, ‘Mom, this is the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life,’” Rodgers said.
She said that Justin’s doctor took no throat culture and gave her son medicine for strep throat. She said her son’s condition worsened over the next few days during which he had increased high fever, chest pain and a lump in his neck. On April 14, Rodgers took her son to St. Anthony’s Hospital, which transported him overnight to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital where he underwent extensive testing, including X-rays and blood work, Rodgers said.
Rodgers said that hospital officials diagnosed him with Lemierre’s Syndrome, a bacteria that can surface after mouth trauma. Last July, Justin was in a car accident that resulted in mouth injuries that required him to get major dental work, including a recent new tooth. In addition, Justin had suffered a broken nose just before the onset of his sore throat, his mother said.
“I wonder if all this woke up the bacteria, which was already living in the body,” Rodgers said.
The last time Rodgers saw him fully awake was a few days later, when hospital officials decided to place her son on a respirator and sedate him with drugs.
“He was out of it but still with us then,” Rodgers said. “He would frown when the doctors worked on him. So he had some responses.”
However, Justin’s lungs kept collapsing, prompting hospital doctors by April 25 to place him on an ECMO machine to help rest his lungs and heart. Doctors at that point also put him into an induced coma, Rodgers said.
“At that point there was no response from Justin,” Rodgers said. “Still, I talked to him and rubbed his sore spots to let him know we were there.”
By Mother’s Day, Justin was leaking too much blood, prompting doctors to decide to remove him from the ECMO, a move they said was risky if his lungs were not healed enough.
“Once they took him off the ECMO, Justin’s face was getting gray,” Rodgers said. “He was holding his own for a few hours, but then he starting going downhill.”
Justin died early the next morning following Mother’s Day with his immediate family, including three older siblings, by his side, Rodgers said.
“He was our baby,” Rodgers said. “I think the hospital tried to keep him going so he did not die on Mother’s Day.”
The tragedy is not the first for the Rodgers family. They also lost a 4-year-old child in a horseback riding accident and had a stillborn child many years ago, Rodgers said.
“I thought God could not possibly do this to us again,” Rodgers said. “I asked why again, why us. But there is no answer. Here we are walking on egg shells again.”
Rodgers said she was at least thankful that Justin’s funeral was so big that people were standing outside, a huge tribute to his life. She also hopes to honor his life with a campaign to help spread awareness about Lemierre’s Syndrome, which she said often hits people between the ages of 14 and 25. It is not spread by kissing but instead lives in the body, she said. Her goal is to make people, including doctors, more aware of its symptoms so they are not mistaken for strep throat.
“I do not want Justin to have died in vain,” Rodgers said. “This is one bad bacteria. It is very serious. People should not treat it lightly.”
To learn more about Lemierre’s Syndrome, visit the Rodgers’ family Web site at