Tarleton graduate, infantry marine diagnosed with extremely rare cancer

Caleb Shaffer—

Multimedia Journalist

Justin Monk and his family Photo courtesy Stephenville Empire Tribune

Stephenville native and high school Hall of Fame member, Justin Monk was set to play football at Hardin-Simmons in 2001. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11 he chose to join the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman, instead of playing football. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 with 2nd battalion 3rd Marine regiment to take part in Operation: Whaler, sequel mission to the infamous Operation: Red Wings, the mission that led to the ambush on U.S Navy SEALs. He left the Marine Corps in 2007 as a Sergeant.

 After returning to Stephenville, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Nursing from Tarleton State University, married his wife, Monica, and has four children, Jansen, Caden, Kinsley and Adley. He was working as a registered nurse with the Hamilton Healthcare System when his headaches started.

 On Dec 22, 2018, Justin started to suffer from severe headaches and vertigo. Monk, a registered nurse, knew he needed to get checked out. Upon arriving at Hamilton General Hospital, it became immediately clear that the symptoms pointed to something much more serious.

An MRI revealed that Monk had a multitude of tumors on his brain and down his spine.  He needed a specialist. More serious tests came when he was admitted in to Baylor’s Scott and White Hospital, where they performed a lumbar puncture for tests. After some complications at Scott and White, he got the results back, Pineal parenchymal tumor of Intermediate differentiation (PPTID).

PPTID is a rare type of tumor, first classified by the World Health Organization in 2000. It accounts for less than 0.3 percent of all primary central nervous system tumors.

 All of the communities involved in Justin’s life have come together for him and his family throughout this ordeal, from his coworkers in the Hamilton Healthcare system, to military friends, and even complete strangers. Justin’s brother, Garrett, said, “The support from the communities, family, friends, and people that haven’t even met Justin has been overwhelming. It restores the faith in humanity to see the good works of people. The Monk family has been blessed and looks to pay it forward!”  

As well as selling t-shirts and hats, the family has also organized a Gofundme to cover living expenses for his wife and children while they go through this process. To donate, go to gf.me/u/qdc9ud

Monk should start aggressive radiation treatment within the next few days. From then, it’ll be six weeks Monday-Friday alternating between radiation and chemotherapy. His family is extremely hopeful and puts their faith in God’s plan.

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