Just three days before Kent LeBoeuf was set to graduate from high school, his doctor diagnosed him with testicular cancer. That spirit-breaking news was given to Mr. LeBoeuf 40 years ago, when he was 18 years old. Mr. LeBoeuf beat the cancer and went on to lead a fulfilling life, which ended last week at the age of 58.
Mr. LeBoeuf, a longtime resident of Alfred, died Tuesday at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. His wife said he died as a result of lymphedema – a condition that resulted from the cancer surgeries in his late teens and early 20s.
“Kent lived a lot longer than anyone thought he could,” said his wife, Lisa Reali LeBoeuf. “He’s a miracle person. Ninety percent of it (his will to live) was his attitude. He never felt sorry for himself.”
Mr. LeBoeuf was born in Massena, N.Y., graduating from Massena Central High School in 1974. After being told he was going to die – his cancer had metastasized – he opted to have surgeries and eventually enrolled in an experimental cancer drug treatment program.
“The doctors told him he was going to die. He said, ‘Let’s try it (experimental drugs).’ He told his mother, ‘I’m not going to die this way,’ ” his wife recalled.
The drugs worked and sent his cancer into remission.
He enrolled in school, studied plumbing and eventually became a master plumber, specializing in heavy industrial plumbing jobs. He went on to marry, raised two daughters, and is survived by them, his mother, three stepsons and several grandchildren.
Mr. LeBoeuf moved to Alfred in 1982. His wife said he rarely missed a day of work.
“I used to say to him, ‘Can’t you just call in sick and we can spend the day together?’ But he always said no. He’d say he had to go work,” she said.
Work was hard on him, his wife pointed out, because the lymphedema spread into his left leg, making it painful for him to walk or stand on.
Mr. LeBoeuf was placed in the Gosnell hospice two weeks ago. During that time, his family and friends visited him.
On one visit with his wife and mother, Mr. LeBoeuf sat up in his bed and declared that he hadn’t had a decent meal in days. His condition prevented him from eating solid foods, which were hard for him to digest.
After devouring a bowl of applesauce, he asked, “Is that it?”
His mother suggested giving him a bowl of his favorite dessert – chocolate ice cream.
He ate all of the ice cream. The treat caused pain but he said, “I don’t care. It was worth it.”
Mr. LeBoeuf was an avid New York Yankees fan. Two rooms in his house were filled with Yankees memorabilia.
When one of his daughters, Andrea Daney of Waterboro, suggested he discard his hospital gown for a Yankees T-shirt, everyone agreed.
“His daughter said, ‘He can’t go to heaven in a johnny,’ ” his wife recalled.
She said her husband led a remarkable life considering the health challenges he faced. In addition to working full time, he served as a Little League and softball league umpire, coached men’s and women’s softball teams, and spent nine years volunteering for the Alfred Parks and Recreation Department, including six years as an indoor soccer coach. He was also active in the Alfred Parish Church, where he served food at church suppers, was an usher on Sunday mornings, and volunteered on weekends helping less fortunate individuals with home repairs.
“He lived every day as if it were a gift,” his wife said.
A celebration of LeBoeuf’s life will be held at the Alfred Parish Church on June 21.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: