By CourtesyMay 13, 2019
1st Lt. Jakub Walters: Family, perseverance, resiliency and faith
By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and Transition
ARLINGTON, Va. - U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jakub Walters' journey in life and the military is nothing short of a combination of family, perseverance, resilience and faith.
"Being in the military runs through my lineage since before the Civil War. My father was an Infantry Officer and later a Psychological Operations Officer in the Army, so of course his career inspired me. I really enjoyed seeing what he did and all the countries he traveled to," Walters said.
The Texas native enlisted in the Army National Guard in February of 2013 as a bridge crew member while attending Texas A & M University. Walters graduate in 2015 and was commissioned as an active duty Infantry Officer. He underwent various trainings including Ranger and Airborne School.
In March of 2018, while serving as a rifle platoon leader in an infantry company, Walters was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage two on his heart. He was transferred to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia to recover.
"My first thought was of my wife, Lexi, because I didn't want my time with her to be cut short," Walters said. "There are a lot of negative thoughts that crept into my mind when fighting this disease. It takes resilience to not submit to them," Walters added.
While Walters credits his family and support system for helping through his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he believes that an individual's mental resilience is key to being able to deal with the ups and downs of having Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"You can have the best support system in the world [which I did], but if you don't have mental resilience then the words of encouragement from the people supporting you will go in one ear and out the other. Lexi is the true hero in this story. Watching your husband go through treatment is a pretty stressful thing, but it didn't faze her. She was by my side when I lost 35 pounds and lost all my hair to the illness and treatments that ravaged my body," Walters explained. "She supported me and kept my spirits up, all while continuing her studies at nursing school while getting excellent grades and came home with a positive attitude. She kept my mind out of the darkness," he added.
Additional visits, love and support sent from friends and other family members also got Walters through the negative emotions.
"My younger brother, Luke Walters, drove 16 hours to take care of me. My other brother, Shane Robinson, flew from Hawaii just to support me. My mom, my mother in-law, my sister and sister-in-law, my friends from high school, my friends from college, etc. It's hard losing to negativity with that many people loving and supporting you. I was blessed."
In September of 2018, Walters went into remission after following the Gerson diet [a vegan based diet] coupled with radiation and therapy. Determined to persevere and return to duty, Walters earned a maximum score of 300 on his first Army Physical Fitness Test after beating the disease.
"It was my cancer. My illness. I owned my situation and maintained a positive outlook. It was my challenge. Looking at it in that perspective was my drive to keep fighting," Walters said.
"The military taught me everything from mental toughness to never quitting. My faith in Christ kept me calm during the storm. Whether I lived or died, I knew that everything was going to be fine. More importantly, you should never underestimate the strength you have; your strength is preserved in your mind, and when discovered, it can be exploited through your heart," Walters said.
In May 2019, Walters will begin his next assignment as a Basic Training Company Executive Officer at Fort Benning, Georgia.