Cancer-free survivor ready to return to duty

| November 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sgt. Jonathan Nichols, assigned to the Tripler Army Medical Center–Warrior Transition Battalion speaks to an audience during the November Warrior Care Month kick-off event at the WTB, Schofield Barracks, Nov. 2. (Photos by Jim Guzior, Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs)

Christopher Fields
Army Warrior Care and Transition

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Tripler Army Medical Center kicked off this year’s Warrior Care Month activities with a special guest speaker, Sgt. Jonathan Nichols, who is participating in this week’s Pacific Regional Trials.

He is competing in archery, shooting, field events and sitting volleyball, but that’s not the reason he was speaking.

Nichols found himself assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, here, in June after completing his treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The diagnosis was received in December 2016 – nearly 18 months overdue and delivered two months after his youngest daughter, Vanessa, was born.

“I had a rash on my leg that just wouldn’t go away, and I tried everything from creams to steroids,” Nichols said.

Nichols continued on despite the stubborn rash and pain. He went on to graduate from the Basic Leader Course, get promoted to sergeant and participate in a cavalry gunnery and Lightning Forge, the 25th Infantry Division’s large-scale training exercise.

Then one day, his body broke down on him.

“I collapsed after passing the Army Physical Fitness Test. They sent me in for an X-ray, and a CAT scan showed I had a honeydew-sized tumor on my sternum.”

From left, Col. Andrew Barr, commander of TAMC; Kaye Nichols with daughter Vanessa Nichols; Sgt. Jonathan Nichols, guest speaker; and TAMC Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Sloan attend the TAMC Warrior Care Month kickoff event, Nov. 2, at Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Jim Guzior, Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs)

One of Nichols’s quotes he often uses is “I get paid not to quit.”

True to his own words, he stayed strong for his oldest daughter, Emmalyn, and battled through the treatments with the help and support of the strongest person he knows, his wife Kaye.

Nichols has been cancer-free since May of this year. Last week, he was again given the “all clear” after his six month post-chemotherapy and radiation appointment. With the cancer gone, Nichols is focusing on returning to duty.

“I’m at a point, right now, where all I’ve got to do is pass the APFT, and I can return to the fold,” Nichols said.

In order to get himself back to where he needs to be physically, Nichols has taken full advantage of the WTB’s adaptive reconditioning program. Activities like yoga, TRX training (a workout using your body weight and suspended straps) and leg mobility drills have helped him to regain his strength.

Nichols’s favorite activity is yoga, partly because of the physical benefits he’s seen, as a result, which help him strengthen core muscles, to include his back, which he says was “very weak from being slumped on the couch for so long.”

Nichols is now doing “almost normal” physical training or some form of cardio improvement three days a week.

Nichols credits Krystal Morris of the adaptive reconditioning program with giving him guidance and a channel to improve himself.

“Krystal created a friendly and very supportive environment to get me back to being deployable and back to the cavalry and my Soldiers.”

For the last two years, the cavalry scout has gone through a rollercoaster of emotions, and he’s glad the ride is coming to an end. He’s finally getting back to where he was before his diagnosis.

“I didn’t choose to have cancer, who would? But I had it, and fortunately, I’m now cancer-free. Soon, I’ll be training and going out with my Soldiers again. I can’t wait.”

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Category: Health, Wounded Warriors

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