At age 18, Justin was ready to take on the world. He was about to graduate from high school, and he'd been accepted into college. He planned to spend the summer working part time and playing sports with friends.
A basketball game changed Justin's life. He felt something strange in his right ankle, but assumed it was sprained and would heal on its own. Justin went off to college, but the pain continued. He came home to have an X-ray, and tests showed a tumor. It was the beginning of what Justin calls his "cancer story."
Justin first was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor and made an appointment to have it removed. He and his family started to feel their worries disappear. But during the surgery, the surgeon came out to talk with his family. More tests were needed and ultimately showed the tumor actually was a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
Justin started receiving chemotherapy drugs right away to destroy the cancer. To increase his chances for survival, he made the difficult decision to have part of his right leg surgically removed. After that surgery, he received more chemotherapy to make sure the cancer was gone.
That could have been the end of Justin's cancer story, but he was determined to give it a positive ending. "Cancer is a terrible thing, but it made me the person I am today," he said. "Because of friends, family and the wonderful staff in the Cancer and Blood Disorders Program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, I am a success. Attitude is everything!"
At 29 years old, Justin now is a college graduate, married and studying to become a prosthetist. Cancer gave him a new career direction. A prosthetist makes artificial limbs for people who are missing a body part like an arm or leg. He still is active in sports, often rides his bike and has completed several 5K races and a triathlon.
After surviving cancer, Justin knows how important it is to stay healthy. He regularly sees his doctor and the specialists in Children's Next Steps Clinic. Even though Justin is an adult, Children's specialists still help him better understand his treatment history and plan for lifelong health care needs.
Learn more about how the Next Steps Clinic helps survivors of cancer or a bone marrow transplant.
Read other children's stories.