Soldier personally thanks students who sent him handmade cards after cancer diagnosis

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:45 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A local soldier with an inoperable brain tumor was recently gifted personal letters of support from students at Manz Elementary in Eau Claire.

It was around Christmas time when Justin Brown received some unexpected, handmade cards from a classroom of students. The cards had encouraging messages like “stay strong” and “don’t give up”.

“Don’t give up. I absolutely will not give up. I’m doing quite the opposite, I’m giving it my all,” Brown told one of the students.

The cards were sent to him after his friend, a school teacher, learned he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“It was absolutely heartwarming and touching. It was interesting hearing all of their stories and how some of them have had some cancer patients in their lives,” Brown said.

Brown says he was touched by the personal messages in the cards.

“One of the kids wrote ‘have a cup of positivity’. I’m not a tea drinker, but I’m a very positive person so that that play on words was really interesting to me,” Brown said.

Brown’s caretaker and friend, Victor Shenton, said it was important for him to thank the kids in person.

“We have some good days and bad days. This has been one of the very good days. Just seeing him up there interacting with kids and the kind of stuff he was saying and educating them about his condition. I thought it was fantastic. It’s really fun to see him out there, actually, you know, kind of communicating the message and and just giving the kids thanks for the cards that they wrote him,” Shenton said.

Brown has a seizure last year, which led to his diagnosis of cancer.

“I had my first seizure November 5th, and then I ended up having a brain biopsy that showed that I have what’s known as a glioblastoma. The mean life expectancy from onset of diagnosis is 11 to 17 months.”

Despite his diagnosis, Shenton said his friend maintains a positive outlook on life.

“The positive mental attitude, and as you can clearly tell, he likes to talk, he loves to talk to people, he loves to meet people. And I think it’s that positivity that keeps him going,” Shenton said.

Brown enjoys kayaking with friends and is an active member of the WI Army National Guard. He is getting radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire.