After a five-year battle with brain cancer, Glenn Lightner died Wednesday morning in hospice care at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center, according to a friend of the Lightner family.
Lightner was 14-years-old. He loved playing basketball with his friends and was a Memphis Grizzlies fan. He was set to finish the eighth grade in June 2013.
The Long Valley teen was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma grade III brain cancer in December 2007. He underwent numerous treatments, from chemotherapy to radiation therapies and multiple brain surgeries throughout the years-long battle.
Earlier in 2012, Glenn and his family decided, after more than four years of battling the disease, to search for alternate treatments abroad.
A stumbling block for the family, however, was the cost it would require to have their eldest son treated in Germany and Belgium. .
The following months showed a community effort the likes of which had never been seen in Long Valley, as fundraisers for the family propped up all over town, from lemonade stands to dinner events with silent auctions.
The amount of money raised eclipsed $135,000, all of which went toward Lightner’s lodging and treatments in Europe. Some progress was made with the treatments, but it was a new laser surgery procedure that would erase tumors on the teen’s brain that became the biggest breakthrough during the summer.
The combination of laser surgery at Robert Wood Johnson and treatments abroad resulted in a clear, tumor-less MRI of Lightner’s brain in August. It was the first MRI of its kind for Lightner in three years.
Just a month later, however, six tumors returned, and the teen’s health gradually worsened.
"We are all deeply saddened here at WTS having learned of Glenn's passing this morning," Washington Township Schools Superintendent Jeff Mohre said in a statement. "Glenn brought so many gifts to so many lives and we will miss him dearly as we hold fast to, and honor, the memory of a beautiful human being. Our education family expresses heartfelt sympathies, caring thoughts, and unyielding support to Karl, Lawrence, Sylvia and the entire Lightner Family. The loss of a child is eternally painful and Glenn and his family will remain in our hearts and prayers forever."
A public viewing will be held for Glenn Lightner Saturday, Dec. 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. Mark's Church on Spring Lane. Interment will be private, according to the William J. Leber Funeral Home.