HENDERSON, Tenn. – What started out a a golfing trip to Atlanta in mid-June quickly turned into a scary moment for Chester County girls soccer coach Jason Judd.
After what he thought was a headache turned out to be a brain tumor, the past six weeks have been a blur.
But through all of the twists and turns, the community of Henderson has stood behind Judd. That was clear this past Friday as 200 people showed up for a fireworks fundraiser as the community tries to offset some of the medical expenses that Judd will accrue while dealing with the tumor.
“Everything at this point has run together,” Judd said. “It has been surreal, and there are some days that I don’t know what day it is because it has happened so fast.
“I am very blessed, very humbled by the showing of the community support. I try to have as positive an impact that I can, mostly with my soccer girls, but with all of the athletes and parents I have come in contact with. For them to give back to me personal, I can’t say thank you enough. That phrase is inadequate. I don’t have words to express my appreciation.”
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Judd was returning to Henderson through Nashville after a golf trip to Atlanta on June 14. He decided to pull over at a gas station to sleep before getting back on the road.
But when he fell asleep, Judd landed on his car horn, and patrons at the gas station couldn’t wake him up. Paramedics were called, and when they woke him up.
“They thought I originally had a seizure,” Judd said. “I had no idea where I was, I didn’t know what day it was, I didn’t know what year it was.”
An MRI showed a 1-centimeter mass on the right side of his brain, and on June 17, surgery was done to remove it the marble-sized tumor.
The tumor was diagnosed as a metastatic melanoma, meaning that the cancer started somewhere else and moved to his brain. He has had tests with a dermatologist, ophthalmologist and gastroenterologist, while also meeting with a radiation oncologist to set up radiation treatments for this week.
“From the research I have done, there are 2% of people that once the tumor metastasizes and moves, the immune system eliminates the primary spot, so they might never find the primary spot,” Judd said.
Staci Irwin has been an assistant coach with Judd for seven years now with Chester County soccer, and she is the one that thought of the fireworks fundraiser.
“It was scary,” Irwin said. “They started a GoFundMe. All of the fireworks shows around here were canceled due to COVID-19, so I thought this would give people something to do and they would come out and raise money to help him.”
Emma Greene is a senior on the Eaglettes soccer team, and hearing this about her coach hit her hard, especially after losing two teammates Roselyn Roberts and Kaylee Daniel in a May car crash.
“I was really upset because he seemed healthy,” Greene said. “He has taught me a lot at soccer. I thought I was good coming to high school, but he showed me that I wasn’t but has helped me get better.”
Judd begins radiation Tuesday and will go through immunotherapy following that, but he currently will not have to have chemotherapy.
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Reach Michael Odom at email@example.com or 731-425-9754. Follow him on Twitter @JSWriterMichael.
Published 1:18 PM EDT Jul 27, 2020