Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 24, 2013

More challenges

Event planned to help local man with health issues

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Jonathan Stovall has faced a few challenges in his life, but none like his latest one.

Jonathan has already survived a collapsed lung, skull fracture and a copperhead bite in his 19-years. Then, he was diagnosed in May with primary synovial sarcoma, a progressive disease that hits only about one percent of all cancer patients.

His mother, Sheree Stovall, said Jonathan had a lung collapse in September, 2012 and in March of this year, Jonathan started experiencing pain again. A CAT scan revealed an enlarged tumor in his lung.

“They went in thinking it was just the one tumor, but when they got in, there were several,” Sheree Stovall said.

Doctors were not able to remove all of the tumors at that time and since then, the mass has continued to grow.

Jonathan had more surgery on Tuesday and came out of it well. He’ll remain in the hospital several more days. The treatment plan is to follow up with radiation and chemotherapy.  Sheree said that will mean regular 5-hour trips to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Okla.

“They said it’s going to be a long process to get them all, because the tendency with the sarcoma is that they regrow,” Sheree Stovall said.

When Jonathan got the news, he and his fiancé, Erica, decided to have a wedding. They had been dating for about a year and were planning to get married.  The ceremony was held in June.  Jonathan went to school at Athens Christian Prep, then graduated from Cross Roads High School.

He played football, and was interested in theater.  After graduating, he began taking his basics at Trinity Valley Community College and wants to pursue a career in physical therapy.

“He is a very compassionate kid,” Sheree Stovall said. “He has a special-needs brother and wants to work with special-needs children.”

Jonathan’s brother is 21-years-old and confined to a wheel chair, battling cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis.  

Jonathan attends Faith Church of Athens where he is an active member of the youth group.

“He’s one of the older kids in the youth group and tries to encourage the younger ones,” Sheree Stovall said.

During his ordeal, Jonathan had been an inspiration to those around him with his positive attitude. 

“We have great family support and believe that God is going to help him through all of this,” Sheree Stovall. “He’s more worried about other people than himself. He’s just a great kid.”

A benefit golf tournament to raise money for Jonathan and his family is set for Sept. 27 at Athens County Club. The entry fee is $350 per team and lunch is provided. East Texas Screen is providing bags and hole-in-one signs.

Additional sponsors and goodie bags are needed. Anyone who would like to help can contact Kim Walker of the Athens Daily Review at 903-477-1706.