NEWS | June 28, 2022

How the Walter Reed SRU helped a soccer player - turned -Soldier tackle Cancer

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Jamaican born Roy Thompson always dreamed of joining the United States Army. That dream began with a sports scholarship. “I came to the United States on a Soccer Scholarship… I played for East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. After college I joined the Army National Guard and fell in love with it. After my commitment to the guard, I went active duty.”

The infantry soldier was living his dream when he started having what he thought was stomach issues in 2018. “From Fort Campbell to my next duty station in Germany, I had so many tests that were inconclusive. I still worked and even deployed with these painful issues.” While stationed in Vilseck Germany in September 2020 during the height of the pandemic, a diagnosis of intestinal cancer became known. He was able to get clearance to MEDEVAC to Walter Reed a month later in October.

“Everyone at Walter Reed was so welcoming and supportive. Whether it was from the psychological point to the physical point, the medical team and leadership were on the same page where I was concerned.”

The 39-year-old father of three had concerns of his own that were quickly put to rest once he was in the Army Recovery Care Program. “I’m so thankful this program is here, and I can be near my wife and kids. The support we get from the ARCP is invaluable… I know sometimes I would feel depressed about my physical situation, but I knew I had folks in behavioral health I could talk to any time. That was helpful. The social work help was invaluable too,” said Thompson.

After two surgeries, many staples, and a weight loss of thirty pounds Thompson had to find a way to be an athlete again as well as just function in his new normal.

“I’m not doing too bad, I have my days where I struggle,” he says while adding he won’t give up.

“I love the adaptive reconditioning program. It helps your body learn to function again. You can go fishing or hiking for example. I had never gone fishing on a boat before, but I do it when it becomes available its very calming.”

Thompson finished his chemo and goes for check ups but continues with his medical team and ARCP to continue the journey to the new dream.

“I am medically retired at the end of the summer. I’ve just learned that ARCP has help for me as well to further my future and help with my family even though I am not return to duty.”

The dream may have changed drastically for Thompson, but he credits his positive outlook and his way ahead on an Army program he never knew existed until he needed it. He and his family are thankful for the Soldier Recovery Unit and Doctors and staff at Walter Reed “They truly do treat the whole Soldier.”