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Simbluej's picture
Simbluej
Posts: 13
Joined: Sep 2006

I'm 25 years old and was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer back in May. I had surgery, radiation, and am still having chemo. I was a reservist for 6 years, went through a few deployments (one to Iraq)...but I got out a few months before I was diagnosed so no medical discharge. Conditions were pretty crappy in Iraq as I'm sure most of you already know but I still talk to some of the people in my unit and there are others starting to show symptoms I had. Despite my best efforts most of them refuse to see doctors. I am just worried that being in Iraq may have something to do with what I have...perhaps I am just stretching for answers but I am curious to see if there is anyone else out there in a similar situation.

area_native's picture
area_native
Posts: 6
Joined: Sep 2006

My husband was in Afghanistan for a year, and his symtoms started while he was there, and I was reading an interesting article, or excerpt from a medical book, which was stating that we all have cancer cells in our body, but it is our environment and health care that set off the dormant cells. Being in the hot desert can be a triggering effect to "awaken" the cells. I thought about that as being my husbands trigger because the five years I have known him, his symptoms never started until he was exposed to the desert environment. Of course, I am no expert in the medical field, and I am certainly not trying to lead you in one direction or another. Just wanted to throw that out there. I know that as a result of these deployments since 1992-93 there have been an increase of military soldiers being diagnosed with some type of cancer. My husband was 23 when he was deployed, 24 when he was medevaced and diagnosed. He is as of yet still away from his family. Hope this was somewhat helpful.
Take care

mjvaughn
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2006

I also went to Iraq and I was diagnosed with stage III melanoma a year after I got back. I'm curious about your medical care, is it military or civilian? I am still in the National Guard and I've applied for VA health care benefits but I'm not sure what to expect from them. Some cancers are considered related to deployments but not mine, as far as I know.

Two guys in my unit died of cancer since we got back, one of them was a guy I saw at my aid station (I'm a medic) towards the end of our deployment and we sent him on to Landstuhl and it turned out he had stage IV stomach cancer and died shortly after we got home in February 2005. I'm not sure what the other guy had, or if there's any others because I'm not with that unit anymore. I'm sorry the guys in your unit won't seek medical care, they probably will need it someday.

Simbluej's picture
Simbluej
Posts: 13
Joined: Sep 2006

I am not sure how it works with the national guard as I was a reservist. I currently am getting treatment through civilian care...and I must say I'm much happier about that. Anyways, I had some problems with coverage when it all first started and everyone assumed that because I'm a veteran I could get it all free through VA...unfortunately thats not true. I looked into pretty deeply and found that they only give coverage if it can be proven that the condition was a direct result of military service. I think it sucks that they can send soldiers to war and refuse to help them in times of illness (sorry, I'm a little bitter about the military). I am actually much happier getting civilian care that I know I can trust (I'm sure you know the military isn't exactly notorious for great doctors). Do you have any other insurance to fall back on? I know how hard it is to have to worry about being sick and then how to pay for it on top of that. When I was having problems I went to see a social worker and it was a huge help, good to see there are some other options out there. Hopefully you will have some better luck with the VA. Good luck with everything and fighting this thing!!

mjvaughn
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2006

According to the VA I qualify based on my combat service, for 2 years after being released from AD, and based on having a low enough income. I just applied on the 16th, after putting it off for months because I assumed I would not qualify at all. A lady from the VA called me on the 22nd and said she was sending me a packet of stuff to sign and return and then they'd get me in to see a doctor. She mentioned that I only had 6 months remaining but that I'd already be in the system by then, so I'm hoping that might mean something. I'm not a big fan of the military health system but hopefully the VA will be better. I've heard some good things from people receiving care for cancer from the VA. I have no other insurance and don't see any options out there right now so I'm trying to get this to work for me.

rwhit
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2010

I have melanoma but from a different era--Viet Nam. You might try researching the topic and combining it with your sun exposure while in Iraq. The VA has various cases that allowed Melanoma as it tied in with amounts of sun exposure. If that doesn't work, check to see if there were any chemicals or toxic dumps in the area you served. Also need to get doctor to link your melanoma with something in your service. The VA doctors are like insurance claim doctors who try to figure out why you shouldn't be allowed your claim. DO NOT DEPEND ON THEM

rwhit
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2010

I have melanoma but from a different era--Viet Nam. You might try researching the topic and combining it with your sun exposure while in Iraq. The VA has various cases that allowed Melanoma as it tied in with amounts of sun exposure. If that doesn't work, check to see if there were any chemicals or toxic dumps in the area you served. Also need to get doctor to link your melanoma with something in your service. The VA doctors are like insurance claim doctors who try to figure out why you shouldn't be allowed your claim. DO NOT DEPEND ON THEM

rwhit
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2010

I have melanoma but from a different era--Viet Nam. You might try researching the topic and combining it with your sun exposure while in Iraq. The VA has various cases that allowed Melanoma as it tied in with amounts of sun exposure. If that doesn't work, check to see if there were any chemicals or toxic dumps in the area you served. Also need to get doctor to link your melanoma with something in your service. The VA doctors are like insurance claim doctors who try to figure out why you shouldn't be allowed your claim. DO NOT DEPEND ON THEM

dogcop67's picture
dogcop67
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2006

Interesting. I was in OIF 2 (Jul 04 - Feb 05) and I started showing symptoms in Jul 05 (which were misdiagnosed as kidney stones) that turned out to be renal cell carcinoma. I had surgery in Sep 05 and had my right kidney removed. My wife had said that I got cancer because of being in Iraq and I dismissed that idea, but after reading your post I'm not so sure anymore. Tell your buddies that are still in the unit that if they don't get checked out, they're frickin stupid. I was fortunate to enough to make it to a German hospital and have surgery on my own before it was too late. I'm currently at Walter Reed for a second surgery and am in very good hands. They even set up an appointment for a second opinion with a doctor at the University of Maryland Cancer Center at my request. Cancer is unforgiving and time works against us when it comes to detection and treatment. Good luck to you.

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Great advice, dogcop.

Who knows what the hell sort of crap you guys got exposed to over there. I wonder if the VA is keeping tabs on this or if they're going to try to blow it off like they did Gulf War syndrome back in the 90's.

donaldo's picture
donaldo
Posts: 36
Joined: Nov 2006

Lots of luck to anyone who tries to prove the military had anything to do with your problems. They cover everything up so much that after a month of them doing chemical experiments on my squad in the early eighties, we returned from the desert to find the front page news in all of the military papers was that they never have, and never will do those experimemts on soldiers. They had set up the cover up before it even happened.
I've only delt with the VA twice, once for my educational money, and the other for the VA guaranteed house loan. Both times I had to call in high level politicians who happened to be friends at the time, to get any action. I didn't even bother with the cancer. I was exposed to radition and "voluntered" military style for two chemical experiments. So sure they probably caused it. Try to prove it.

DonAdams
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2005

I hear the bad mouthing about the VA all the time. I must be prettier, smarter, and much more fun to be around than some of the guys but the fact is that I've had great service from VA representatives as well as exceptionally good medical care for all my cancers.

I'm a 100% SC VN vet.

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Don -

Good to hear a VA success story. My personal opinion is that it has a lot to do with the VA regional office one is working with - where are you located?

Happy new year.

SpongeBob

donaldo's picture
donaldo
Posts: 36
Joined: Nov 2006

Don
I'm not sure what "Prettier, smarter, and much more fun to be around than some of the guys" really has to do with anything. But here's my two experiences with the VA. Feel free to love them them all you want, I don't.
I primarily joined the miltary to fund future schooling, and was on one of the programs for that purpose. When I had served my time and received an honorable discharge, I applied for that funding. The VA at first denied I was ever in such a program. When I proved I was, they declared all of my computer records had been wiped out by a computer glitch, and all written records were lost somewhere between Texas and Missouri (I have no idea why my records were ever in Texas). Over the next six months this grew into I was never in the military, and I didn't even exist. I contacted a family friend, congressman, chairman of the house committee on armed services, and future secretary of defense Les Aspin. When he contacted the VA, I suddenly came back into existence, and was a veteran and participant in the educational program once again.
My next experience was with a VA house auction and quaranteed home loan. If everything had proceeded normally, I would have believed I had legitamatly lost the auction. But as it turned out, alot of evidence happened to land on my lap that proved I had in fact won the auction, but that the real estate firm, and members of the Milwaukee VA office were receiving kickbacks by awarding the house to someone else. They were also once again claiming I was never in the army and did not exist. This time I contacted family friend, Governor, and future HHS secretary Tommy Thompson, and my brothers friend Congressman and member of the Appropriations committee Mark Neumann. When they contacted the VA I suddenly came back into existance once again, and was awarded the house, and loan.
Some people such as you may get the proper service. Others like me may be able to bulldoze their way through the BS. But way to many vets don't have the luck or power to get the service they deserve, and are getting shafted. As far as I'm concerned, until all vets get the same service, and the corruption in the VA is cleaned up. They are nothing more then a rogue organization in major need of more federal oversite.

NorCalMichael
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2009

I was in OIF 03-04 and just found out I may have cancer. I am starting treatment.

Derrick's picture
Derrick
Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2007

Hi,
I just read your post and I am wondering how you are doing? I was never in the military and I am 36 yrs old living in Canada. I think you said you were diagnosed with Melanoms stage 3 as well....and I was also diagnosed with Melanoma stage 3A back in 2007...I had my lymph nodes removed on my left side...doing ok so far....I am wondering how you are doing with this and what treatments you might have taken?
Thanks,
Derrick.

PBrahm
Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2013

i was also in iraq in 03/04 as an 88m. i did over 30000 miles in iraq running convoys everywhere. my thyroid died while i was there and now i have b cell lymphoma. i am service connected for my thyroid because that was diagnosed within 1 yr. the va has been taking care of my infusions for 1 1/2 yrs now. i dont get a bill for what insurance doesn't cover so they have been a life saver on that end. i put in a claim for cancer but was denied beacause it started 2 yrs after release from active duty. i would tell all vets to start with there local vets center or dav. they are therento help and really do care.

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