A Soldier’s Survivor Story

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The following email was sent to LIVESTRONG CEO, Doug Ulman. Doug is currently accompanying Lance on a USO Tour.

Dear Doug,

In early 2001, while stationed at Camp Casey, Korea I had noticed a lump on one of my testicles. I went to the medics to have it checked out and they arranged for me to go to Seoul and have an ultrasound in order to rule out the possibility of cancer, my appointment was set for 2 weeks. I am not sure if my Company Commander had been personally touched by cancer, but when he heard this he pulled some strings and got my ultrasound set for the next day. After a 3 hour bus ride down to Seoul, I finally underwent the ultrasound. The results were not good and I was immediately scheduled for surgery. After the orchiectomy the Doctor informed me everything had went well and they caught the cancer before it had spread. I now had to call my wife of less than 2 years and explain that I had, cancer, was now one testicle short, and no longer had cancer. The news went over as well as you can imagine it did. I was released back to my unit at Camp Casey, and allowed time off in order to recover.

The next Tuesday I received a phone call from a nurse at the Hospital that told me I needed to return and speak with the Doctor. I planned on going on Thursday so I could spend a 4 day weekend in the city but she informed me I needed to come immediately. When I asked more questions as far as what it was about she told me the Doctor needed to tell me face to face. I took the trip back to Seoul and was then informed that the cancer had in fact spread to my lymph nodes, there was nothing they could do in country, and I would be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for further treatment.

My wife had been living with my parents while I was overseas to help with the dialysis Mom was doing 3 times a week for kidney failure (she later got a transplant and is doing great). I told my family the plans and decided to meet me in DC when I landed. I told my wife to bring enough stuff for about a week stay since I didn?t know if I would be inpatient or out patient, and would probably live in the barracks. When I landed in DC I saw my wife?s car and she had brought everything she owned. She told me she was there to stay, and would not be leaving until I did. We ended up staying in a Hotel for about 2 months and finally got Military Housing in DC. My mom brought a book about a guy I had never heard of, titled ?It?s not About the Bike?. I couldn?t put the book down and instantly related to everything Lance said, and became the biggest fan. To me he was what Superman is to little kids, almost too real to be true.

After 3 months of Chemo (BEP) I was told my lungs were scarred too bad to run, and I should be medically retired. The Army requirement is that you are able to run 2 miles in a prescribed amount of time to be retained. I then began the painstaking process of running again. I remember running on a treadmill, running ¼ of a mile, walking ½ a mile and repeating. Eventually I was able to meet the minimums, and after Army boards convened was allowed to stay in. I walked in on the Cadre one day planning for the Army Ten Miler that was coming up. They needed one more for their team and were laughing that they should have a patient do it. I called their bluff and signed up on the spot. I trained with the team for a few months, preparing for the race, but after the events of September 11, the race was canceled. I stayed in DC until October of 2001 when I was cleared to return to duty.

We had banked sperm in DC because of the upcoming Chemo treatment. Shortly after arriving to Fort Knox, KY we found out Heather had gotten pregnant and we canceled the sperm bill. Madison Hope was born on August 14, 2002.

I was so inspired by Lance that I decided I needed a comeback of my own!! I briefly decided to take up cycling until I saw the price tags on everything and quickly decided to concentrate on running. I set my sights on a Marathon, and in 2003 completed the Derby City Marathon in Louisville, KY. I continued to run and entered as many road races as I could, fully addicted to finish lines.

While stationed in KY, I was asked to be a guest speaker at Relay For Life and have been involved with them ever since, I chaired the event for my County 2 years ago in Kansas. In July of 2006, while stationed at Fort Riley, KS we had our second daughter, Courtney Lee. After that I had a vasectomy and we decided we were finished having kids. It is important to note here, that prior to ultrasounds, both kids were going to be named Lance. On the day the internet announced Lance?s comeback from retirement, we found out the vasectomy had failed and Heather was pregnant again. I knew that this was going to be my boy, finally a Lance. Taylor Paige was born in April of 2009, and I had another vasectomy.

This past summer I decided to try a triathlon. I called on some of my cycling buddies to help me train and they laughed when I showed up with my 7 year old MTB. I continued to train with them, and they continued to punish me with their road bikes. I tried forever to find an affordable road bike on Craigslist but had no luck. A week before the tri one of my buddies put me in his car and drove me 5 hours to his house in VA. In his garage were no less than 12 roadies and he pulled out a 2006 Kona Deluxe. He told me congratulations, welcome to the cycling community and took me to buy some shoes. After clipping in for my first ride I was instantly hooked on cycling!! I completed 5 sprint tri?s last year, I am investing in some aero bars while I am in Iraq and setting my sights on Olympic distance when I return home next year.

That?s my story, I am sure it is not unique, after all there are 28 million. I am very proud of it and thank Lance for all of the inspiration, I am sorry I missed out on a chance to meet him, I still need to touch him and confirm he is real!! Thanks for all you do. LIVESTRONG.org is absolutely amazing. I continue to spread my story and inspire as many people as I can. God bless you both for coming over here, during the holidays to give us all a piece of home and let us know the US still cares.

LIVESTRONG,

Captain Jason Whitus,
1-18 Infantry, Battalion Adjutant.

12 thoughts on “A Soldier’s Survivor Story”

  1. Carol Slover says:

    This is my first cousin and I didn’t even know what all he had went through. Jason is an amazing man and I am so proud of him. Thank you for inspiring him.

  2. fine srory good luck
    survivor belgium

  3. Awesome story. You rock! Come home safely.

  4. Jan Beery says:

    Jason,

    I’m a military mom of two soldiers. Both Army. One CPT Ranger Tabbed, recently out and one Gunnery SGT still in at Fort Hood, part of 1st Cav.
    You are an amazing young man! I will keep you in my prayers. YOu shouldn’t have to want for anything dear soldier! You and your family are sacrificing so much with your service.
    If you need ANYTHING for riding, for your family what ever, please let me know.

    Much love and support. God Bless,

    Jan

  5. Casey Goldston says:

    I’ve Known Jason since I was a young kid, a GREAT friend and Outstanding Soldier…..God has continued to bless you and your family! Very proud how you overcame so much and continue to be one of Americas finest..stay safe brother!!

  6. Jamie & Mitzy says:

    Stay safe Jason – amazing story! But we have always known you were amazing!

  7. Jason Whitus says:

    Hey,
    Humbled a bit by the comments, but here is how this went down. Doug was in Iraq scheduled to come up to where I was. 2 flights in a row got canceled so I decided to shoot him an e-mail with my story, thinking he may have some down time, and to solidify the fact of how LIVESTRONG motivates us all. If you want to get rich quick, count your Life, Love and Family. Thanks Jan, but I don’t need anything, I just hope hope this story inspires someone else!!

  8. Lisa says:

    Jason! You are a rock star! Thanks so much for serving our country…and for being a great example of a family man.

  9. Janet Parham says:

    Jason, I just read your story by way of a forwarded e-mail from Sylvia Charten, through my cousin, Andrea Lewis. To say that it is inspiring is a huge understatement! Our church, Chinquapin Grove Baptist, Bluff City, TN, has included servicemen and servicewomen on our ongoing prayer list. It is indeed an honor to know of your story as well as your service. Ken and I were church members along with your Mom and Dad in the early 70’s at South Harriman Baptist and are glad your mom is doing well. Please know that we love and support you in your service to our country and will pray for you and your sweet family regularly. Janet Long Parham

  10. Tammy Dittman says:

    Jason is married to my cousin Heather, He is a true inspiration to never give up. Heather and the girls are lucky to have him and he is lucky to have them. They all truly know the meaning of love conquers all. Tammy Dittman

  11. Ben says:

    Thank you for your service and sharing your story, very inspirational.

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