Veteran Offers Advice to Other Military Personnel With Cancer: ‘There’s Nothing Worse Than Trying to Tough It Out’

After being diagnosed with sarcoma while deployed overseas, military veteran Brandi Benson realized the importance of speaking up about health complications.

In 2008, military veteran Brandi Benson noticed a lump on her leg while she was deployed in Iraq. The then 24-year-old traveled from country to country for CT scans and MRIs before officially receiving her diagnosis: Ewing sarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs in the bone and soft tissue.

In a recent interview with CURE®, Benson reflected on her experience and offered advice to other military veterans or active servicemembers who are experiencing health complications.

“Our health is so important,” she said. “There’s nothing worse than trying to tough it out.”

Transcript

There was this new thing called the PACT Act that just got passed. … What this act does is, it's now linking individuals who have been deployed or the service connected with the military, and coming back sick with cancer, or some sort of maybe respiratory issues, or something's going on with them.

So I would tell those veterans to definitely go get checked out. They don't have to tough it out any longer. Our health is so important, there's nothing worse than trying to tough it out. And you could have done something about whatever the diagnosis is, or whatever these issues are. So getting checked out, asking for help speaking up with something's wrong doesn't feel right, you know, your body the best; if you're so exhausted for X amount of time, you need to get that checked out.

If you want to be there for your family, you want to … do these great things and contribute still to the military … the mission first is yourself. So you have to take care of yourself. So I just tell those individuals to keep an eye on their health.

There is the PACT Act has been passed now and it's associating being deployed with illnesses that are coming back from deployment. So if they're eligible, they need to go get checked. So that's definitely something I would tell them.

(It’s the) same thing for those in the military; I would just tell them, when they get a cancer diagnosed, or they're going through something traumatic events such as cancer or maybe a divorce or whatever it is, to not give up on themselves — anything is possible. You know, just it's all about how you respond to the situation. And then from there, you can kind of judge where it's going to be leading yourself to.

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