After cancer battle, teen happy to play basketball again

Johnson brothers both on provincial teams

Published on July 16, 2014
Jaren and Jalen Johnson both are on provincial teams this year.

What a difference a couple years can make.

Jalen Johnson was just 13-years-old when he found out he had cancer

At the time he was a starting player for the New Glasgow Junior High School basketball team and had to bow out of the season because of pains in his leg. The pain in his leg turned out to be a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In Jalen’s case, it centred in the bones of his leg.

Temporarily he had to set aside basketball and focus on battling the disease.

Fast forward two years and it’s hard to believe he’s the same person. Taller and back in game shape, his cancer is gone. He has finally been able to get back into basketball.

This summer he’s been playing for Team Nova Scotia after beating out some stiff competition to make the roster of the U16 team. His younger brother Jaren also made it onto a provincial team. He is on the U14.

It wasn’t an easy road coming back however.

“I remember the first couple workouts,” Jalen said. “Oh they were rough. I wasn’t playing like I used to.”

But he kept at it and continued to practice with Jaren at the YMCA gym.

Coach Paul Butler says it’s an incredible experience for these two teens to be able to get to play with the provincial teams. He said they not only benefit themselves but also are able to bring back what the learned to share with their teammates here in Pictou County.

Jalen said he was happy to have made the team.

“It’s a great experience and a good opportunity,” he said.

He said he’s been playing since he was in elementary school and just loves the game.

“It’s a team sport and you get to meet lots of new friends and people through different teams on different trips,” he said.

He’s thankful to have that opportunity again.

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