Juston Tankersley remembers sitting at his computer late at night back in 2006. His wife and daughter were sleeping. The 33-year-old was five weeks out from surgery, getting ready to start chemotherapy after a diagnosis of a right frontal oligodendroglioma.
Acknowledging that it is not wise to go online for medical information, he did just that. “Everything I found was not good. Honestly, maybe I could have skipped over some good stuff. But I spiraled into a depression and felt very alone. My wife Shauna is my everything, but she didn’t understand and you don’t expect her to.” His wife was just completing a pediatric advanced practice nursing degree (APN), so might have had more knowledge than most.
Eventually, he googled ‘brain tumor programs’ and the American Brain Tumor Association popped up. “I ran across the website that changed my life.”
The association sent him two hefty books to read and he devoured them, hungry for any information he could get about his condition. “After that, my personality changed,” Juston adds. “I began looking on the bright side of things and put my faith in the Lord. And here I am 12 years later.” The American Brain Tumor Association provided him with accurate, but positive, information that he used as a tool to approach his journey in a good state of mind.
After the softball-sized tumor was surgically removed, Juston underwent a year of chemotherapy and 38 radiation treatments. While he still suffers from severe headaches, he considers them something he has to deal with – and he’s grateful he has the chance to do that.
Those headaches did prevent him from working, though. In the trucking business as a sales representative, he could not drive due to the headaches. But while playing golf recently with a colleague from his previous workplace, he was asked to go back to selling trucks again. He started doing that just last month. “I love every minute of it.”
He’s given back by becoming one of the first mentors and support group facilitators in the association’s CommYOUnity Connect peer mentoring program, matching patients and caregivers with someone who has experienced a similar tumor or situation. “A lot of times people don’t like sharing their stories. But mine made me the person I am,” says Juston. “Anyway, I’m in sales!”
A die hard Razorback fan, this Arkansan says his best story is being told that he wouldn’t be able to have more children because of the chemotherapy. He is now the proud father of 14-year-old Jameson and 8-year-old Jackson.
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