AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017


Photo Essay: One Couple’s Brain Tumor Journey

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Photo Essay: One Couple's Brain Tumor Journey

This photo essay follows an extraordinary couple, Josh and Jenna Buehler, who, in the midst of an overwhelming diagnosis and life-altering events, permitted a photojournalist to document their journey with brain cancer. A photo essay that exposes the entirety of the patient experience, these images are raw, real, honest and humbling; they bring the viewer face-to-face with the humanity of medicine through the Buehler’s lives.

Newlyweds in September 2014, Josh and Jenna Buehler were two days into their long-awaited honeymoon in Taiwan in March 2015, when Josh found himself in the emergency room with neurological impairments. After arriving in Taiwan, Josh had begun experiencing confusion, disorientation and left-side weakness, which presented as lazy posture. He dragged his left foot, and with the altitude change, he was unable to walk straight. ER physicians ordered a CT scan, which identified a midline shift and general mass. A neurosurgeon was consulted, and an MRI revealed what the Taiwanese neurosurgeon suspected — a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in Josh’s right parietal lobe.

Jenna, an athletic trainer at Georgia Technical Institute in Atlanta, initially consulted John W. Xerogeanes, MD, Emory University Hospital’s chief of sports medicine, with whom she had worked. Dr. Xerogeanes referred them to Costas G. Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, FAANS, who reviewed both the MRI and CT scans and collaborated to ensure Josh was put on Keppra and Decadron and was stable for travel back to the United States. On a flight back to the U.S. 24 hours after being discharged from the ER in Taiwan, Josh and Jenna faced a preliminary diagnosis of a World Health Organization (WHO) grade IV, GBM.

Josh underwent a craniotomy at Emory University Hospital Midtown on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, and was discharged on Thursday, March 19, 2015. After completing six weeks of radiation the first week of June 2015 and a course of oral chemotherapy (Temodar), he continues to take a maintenance dose of Temodar. The couple is cautiously optimistic with how well Josh has responded to treatment.

For more information about her work, visit:

this is documentary
jkeenan photography
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