By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and TransitionMarch 29, 2017
"It's hard to beat a person that never gives up" - Babe Ruth
It's a quote Pfc. Dylan Coleman, a former semi-pro baseball player, would come to lean on. In the summer of 2016, while cleaning a chest tattoo, he found a lump. At the urgency of his squad leader, Coleman sought medical attention. A short time later, the 20 year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer, a conversation he says changed his life forever.
"Life threw me a curve ball. I am the only male in my family to be diagnosed with the disease," Coleman said. The lump was growing rapidly next to his heart.
According to Coleman, the doctors indicated that they caught it at the right time. "I'm a firm believer that early detection is key. I had to hurry up and figure out what was next. While most of my friends were enjoying their free-spirit lifestyle, I was dealing with chemo and doctor appointments," said Coleman.
After two weeks of undergoing chemotherapy, Coleman reminisced about his military enlistment days and began to concentrate on his future.
"It was like going to basic training all over again. I now had a shaved head, but without the military insisting on me getting a haircut," he laughed. "But honestly I was very sick and my bones were becoming brittle. It was definitely a wakeup call for me. It changes you forever. But my first thought was I must return to duty," said Coleman as he continued to talk about his recovery.
Coleman healed at the Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Unit, where adaptive reconditioning sports became a lifeline.
"I love sports. It doesn't matter what it is. The batting cage along with track and shooting became my refuge. Those type of activities can take you out of a dark place," said Coleman.
The Field Artillery Specialist will compete in shooting and track for the first time at the Army Warrior Care and Transition's 2017 Army Trials. Coleman is hoping to be one of the 40 selected to represent Team Army at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 30 - July 8, in Chicago.
"It would be an honor to represent Team Army at Warrior Games. The Army has given me so much. I'm a survivor because of them and I want to give back," Coleman said.
"My grandfather always said, 'It's not life if you're not being challenged.' And I'm ready for whatever challenge comes next."