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'Justin, you have brain cancer'

By Madison Park, CNN
Anna Paquin likes her workouts hard, her coffee "giant," and admits that she doesn't sit still much.

When you're in your 20s, you seldom think of the end -- especially when you're a carefree bartender and hard-partying lead singer of a band.

Last spring, Justin Anderson, 26, felt a splitting headache while practicing a song with his rock band, Comrade Generator. He could tell something was wrong. He tried to ignore it, but the pain persisted. In May, his doctor ordered an MRI -- an imaging procedure.

Then the doctors broke the news: "You have a form of brain cancer. It's not the deadliest form, but it's not very good at all.

"We probably can't cure it, but we can attack it with all we've got and hope for the best."

The average person lives about two to five years after diagnosis.

A walnut-sized brain tumor called anaplastic astrocytoma had rapidly grown in his right temporal lobe. It was a grade III tumor (in a scale of tumors, grade IV is the worst).

This type of tumor can spread throughout the brain and has an 80% chance of recurring. And when it comes back, it can be deadly.

With the prospect that his brain could be killing him, Justin started a Caringbridge blog to update his friends and family. His Facebook page, which had before advertised rock performances turned more reflective as the 20-something faced his mortality.

This is how he told his story to friends and family.

June 2010

Justin writes for the first time about his brain tumor on his personal Facebook page.

For the surgery, doctors shaved a bit of his hair off and then opened his skull to remove the tumor. He had to leave his bartending job at Buffalo Wild Wings to fight cancer.

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July 2010