Dig Deep

I have listened to and read many of the Never Quit stories, and it inspired me to write my own. I joined the Army in 1996 right out of High School. I deployed to Iraq in 2003-2005. During that time saw some stuff and had missions all over the country. I returned home in March 2005. It is weird. Being jacked on adrenaline myself and some of my close buddies had a difficult time transitioning to the peaceful civilian life. Being a member of the National Guard, I returned to work, but was never really the same prior to Iraq. Alcohol helped silence the chaos, but it was always temporary. I was 27, and wanted to do anything I could to return to war. That was normal. I wanted to return to normal. I got a new job and that quenched the need to return to war for the time being. I thought I would grab a rotation after being home for a few months and return to the normal. In 2006 I became ill. I figured it was the flu, and just would let it ride out. My symptoms became worse. I am not one to run to a doctor after every cough. It was October I began having symptoms. In December I had lost 20lbs and was white as a ghost. With pressure from my family at Christmas, I decided to get checked out. Needless to say it was probably the right choice. I had no blood. I was admitted to the hospital and underwent multiple test. All were inconclusive. I was transferred to the Huntsman Cancer Institute due to the similarities of symptoms but no direct cancer diagnosis. Another round of tests I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer stage 4. An aggressive chemotherapy regiment was given. This little sickness was 45 days in the hospital, 22 blood transfusions, and multiple surgeries. I had sever nerve damage in my legs and could not walk. Apparently my liver had expanded and it caused my legs to swell. I had to have a spinal injection of chemotherapy each day prior to my 8 hour chemo treatment. This occurred every 2 weeks. Due to the damage in my legs, I was told I would not be able to walk normally, let alone run again. I was still in the Military, this was not an option. It took 4 months after my hospital stay to be able to walk at a normal pace again. I was given a clear diagnosis almost a year after I first became sick. I still had the desire to go back to war, but the Army does not allow those who are recovering from Cancer or under doctor supervision to deploy. In fact I was scheduled to go in front of a medical board in Fort Carson so they could begin discharging me from the Army. I wanted to serve my time and obtain a retirement. I was an E6 at this time. I was young when I got sick, and 31 when I was able to return to full duty. I had to fight to stay in. November 2009, and decided to submit my packet to become a Warrant Officer. I was approved in December, and had a class date in March 2010 for candidate school. I began training immediately. Running was difficult, but I am not going to have someone tell me what I can or can’t do. I began running a few steps at a time, and worked up to several miles. Candidate school is intensely physical and mental. I was running a 7 minute mile in the high elevations, and Fort Rucker is much closer to sea level. The first run, I was one of twelve who completed the fast paced 3 mile run. That point, I would never give up. I would give my all. I graduated and became a WO1 April 28, 2010.

The hard times give us the fortitude to dig deep and see what we have inside. I gained a love for running by being told I would never be able to do that task again. I maintained my Military status and eventually retired with 20 year in September 2016. I had a possible secondary cancer in 2014. I was unable to run distances, and my body never really recovered. A surgery was done and the lump was in conclusive. My military time was coming to an end. I volunteered multiple times to return to war, but was never able to return. Life is full of trials and tribulations. I was dealt a rough hand. We choose the path we take, and should not accept defeat because that is the easy way out. Digging deep and looking inward for strength to overcome challenges is the key. I live each and every day in my life with constant pain. I push myself every day of my life to continue on. The fight never ended the day I returned to the U.S. It didn’t stop after I completed chemotherapy nor did it stop when I forced myself to run and return to full strength. It didn’t stop when I went through Warrant Officer School, or when I became sick again. The fight is a daily battle with up’s and down’s. The goal is to never give up.

Author: Chris