Danville couple uses cancer to help others

By Peg McRoy Glover

When Jon Acton sat in an infusion chair during treatment, he looked around at the other people receiving chemotherapy and wondered where they were in their cancer-fighting journey. 

As he took this in, an idea he kicked around in his head about broken shells began to take shape, forming a personal mission.  

The Danville resident thought back to the times he combed beaches looking for the perfect iconic shell, the calico scallop. Every one he found was either discolored, broken or chipped. 

“You know we are all broken shells,” said Acton. “We all have something we must deal with whether it’s cancer, diabetes, divorce, depression or whatever.”

Broken Shells is the company he created, and the title of his soon to be released book, “Broken Shells, A Pefektly Imperfekt Journey Through Cancer, Leadership, and Love.”

An educator for 30 years, Acton was superintendent at Salem Community School Corporation when he was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer in September 2020. He had been battling Crohn’s disease for many years, making his diagnosis and treatment complicated.

Two of his best friends and fellow educators Aron Bright and Keith Fessler were also diagnosed with colorectal cancer a few months prior to Acton, and all three were diagnosed via colonoscopy. 

This unbelievable and heart wrenching detail in the journey allowed them to support each other. Acton and Fessler survived, and Bright lost his battle with cancer. 

“Once Aron passed away it created a huge void for me because he was one of my go-to people,” said Acton. 

Acton turned his grief and battle into a book with his wife Lindsey who added her perspective writing about caring for someone going through cancer treatments.   

Book signing

Danville resident Jon Acton will release his new book “Broken Shells, A Pefektly Imperfekt Journey Through Cancer, Leadership, and Love,” March 9. 

Book signing: XXX March 9 at the Royal Theater, 59 S. Washington St., Danville. 

Buy the book: Visit brokenshells.net or Amazon. Cost: $19.95.