Spc. Andy Kim: Fortune favors the bold
By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - While some children dream of being a superhero, venturing into space or becoming a magician, U.S. Army Spc. Andy Kim dreamed of doing only one thing, serving his country.

"Serving in the military has been a dream of mine ever since I was a child. My family has a history of service, and continuing the tradition played a large role in my decision to enlist," Kim said. "My grandfather served as an artillery officer for the Republic of Korea Army during the Korean War, and my father served as an infantry officer for the ROK Army as well. In addition, the September 11th attacks were hugely influential in my decision to enlist," said Kim.

But Kim says nothing could prepare him for the attack on his body he experienced in 2016. During a routine workout, he felt a sharp pain in his right tibia. Believing it was simply shin splints, he continued physical training for approximately four months despite the continuous pain. He decided to seek medical attention to address the pain. After images were taken of his lower right leg, he was immediately referred to the orthopedics and oncology team at Brooke Army Medical Center. A short time later he was diagnosed with high grade intramedullary osteosarcoma - a form of bone cancer that generally affects children.

"It was honestly a shock. I was expecting a diagnosis of stress fractures, but it was clearly something much more serious than that. Injuries from external forces are to be expected, but to have your own body debilitate you is something nobody expects," Kim said.

The California native says the cancer has been his biggest battle yet.

"This is undoubtedly the most difficult thing I've ever had to go through. The physical, mental, and emotional toll that chemotherapy takes is impossible to explain," said Kim.

During his recovery period, Kim says the care he received at Joint Base San Antonio's Warrior Transition Battalion, mixed with his friends and family support was a Godsend.

"The cadre at the WTB are some of the most professional Non-Commissioned Officers I've had the pleasure of meeting. My family and friends were also instrumental in overcoming this mountain of an obstacle," Kim said. "During my treatment I was incredibly lucky to have my girlfriend help me through the worst of it all, and I am confident that it would have been a much more difficult road had she not been there."

With the cancer now in remission, Kim has started focusing on his next mission; returning to duty.

Kim says the WTB was instrumental to his healing and rehabilitation. It allowed him the time and opportunity to return to good health and get ready to return to the fight. "I was given multiple ways to become healthy enough to continue soldiering, some of which include physical therapy, adaptive reconditioning, and a return-to-run program," Kim said. "[The WTB] also offered numerous ways to prepare me to enter civilian life had I been found unfit to return to duty."

Kim is fit for duty and will return to his position as a computer systems repairer after completing the transition process. Always guided by his faith and a famous Latin proverb, Kim says he's up for the next chapter of his life.

"It's been a challenging time, but I made it. 'Fortune favors the bold, "Kim said.