Cancer Survivor Eyes BUD/S

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Cancer survivor eyes BUDs as next challenge

12/17/2010 By Cpl. Bobbie A. Curtis, 2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — If late stage cancer can’t stop Petty Officer 3rd Class Chris Zunker, then the U.S. Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training program might want to watch out.
Zunker, a corpsman who is preparing to depart the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, returned from a successful tour in Iraq last April where he served with a Marine Corps military transition team –a deployment that almost never happened.
After being diagnosed with Hotchkins Lymphoma in April 2006 at the age of 22, it looked like Zunker’s time in the Navy had come to an abrupt end, and his time serving with the Corps would never occur.
Zunker awoke one morning with a sore neck and a few days later had a lump the size of his fist where the pain had started. He had the late stage cancer on much of his head, neck and chest.
He said at first the news was difficult to bare.
“I asked my dock, I said ‘this can’t be cancer, only old people get cancer, ‘” he explained.
He quickly accepted the prognosis and set his mind on defeating the sickness.
“I was like, ‘okay, how do we get through this so I can get back to my career?’”
Though his cancer was serious, doctors had a positive outlook on his recovery due to his good health, and excellent level of physical fitness.
“My physical condition and doing what the doctors told me really helped me go through the process,” he said.
After four-months of chemo therapy and one-month of radiation, plus his strict adherences to a good diet and lots of rest, Zunker’s cancer began to recede. But he wasn’t out of danger yet. Cancer often comes back in the years following its remission, and he was likely facing medical retirement from the Navy.
Determined to continue his Naval service and live his dream of one day becoming an elite Naval special warfare operator (SEAL), Zunker pleaded his case and was allowed to stay in the Navy and now after his successful tour with the Marine Corps, is returning to the blue side to work at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va., where he will work in the health services section.
He is happy about his next duty station because it puts him in proximity to his wife, Jessica Zunker, who is stationed aboard the USS Jima.
Zunker spends much of his time volunteering with charitable organizations and cancer research societies, as well as training for triathlons. He is an avid swimmer stating that the water “is my happy place.”
Next year his recovery from the cancer that once ailed him will be considered complete, at which time he plans to attend BUDS training to try to fulfill his dreams of becoming a SEAL.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndmlg/Pages/2010 Articles/December/Cancersurvivor.aspx
 
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