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NEWS | April 29, 2024

I am where I am, and this is the new me

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

The majority of breast cancers in women are diagnosed in women over the age of fifty, according to the Susan G Komen Foundation. Army Spc. Bryce Ewing didn't have a chance to reach her fifties before breast cancer set in. "I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 23. I eventually went to the Ft Stewart SRU; I wish I had gone sooner in my recovery because I believe I could have benefitted more," said the now medically retired aviation specialist who loved working on Blackhawk helicopters.

She found the lump seven months into her pregnancy and went for a biopsy that she says was canceled by a radiologist who told her it was just a clogged milk duct. "I went home and two months later delivered my son. Then the lump got bigger, so I went back and had it looked at again, this time having the biopsy. They told me the bad news," said Ewing, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age forty.

Ewing became part of the latest statistics of breast cancer cases for women. In 2023, there were just under 300,000 new cases of breast cancer in women in the U.S., but again, it's most common in women over fifty. "It's definitely different being a very young woman with breast cancer as it's typical for older women to have it. You feel weird sitting in the waiting room and feel like you aren't supposed to be there. There isn't a lot of support or groups specifically for young women with breast cancer."

Ewing had a thriving career in the Army, a new baby, and was now facing a new world on multiple levels.
"My first mastectomy was on Oct 28, 2013; I had 15 rounds of chemo and 32 rounds of radiation; of course, I lost all my hair," she said with a chuckle.

Despite not having specific support for women her age with breast cancer, Ewing eventually went to the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, where she found help beyond her belief. "They had transportation, barracks, medical staff, and everything you needed to be successful in your recovery. I am glad I was able to experience the SRU when I did. I was there from 2015 until my retirement in 2017." They helped even more with my appointment and additional surgeries."

The mother of two now says her time in the SRU brought her to the positive place she is today. "I'm doing great. I am thriving. It did take a while. After years of surgeries and mental health issues – the SRU helped me through the tough parts. They actually took out my major pectoralis muscle so learning to adapt in sports and train the proper way meant a lot for me to be powerlifting in the SRU- They helped me so much. I could not do this five years ago," said the Soldier Athlete we first met at the 2024 Army Trials.

Ewing didn't make this year's team but has caught the Warrior Games bug. "It was such an honor to be able to compete to be on Team Army. I will keep training and be back next year."

The SRU introduced her to adaptive sports, the Valor Games, and the Warrior Games. The knowledge of how to find what you can do but differently is the joy Ewing found at the Fort Stewart SRU. "I was maxing out my pushups in the Army, so after surgery and my muscle removal, I'm not the same, but I'm not giving up. I do things differently. I am where I am, and this is the new me, and I'm accepting of that!"

A staunch advocate for breast cancer awareness, especially among young women, Ewing presses finding one's voice and finding a way to keep going. She thanks family, friends, and the Fort Stewart SRU for helping her through this. "Always be the best advocate for yourself. If you feel something is wrong, keep pushing. Keep a positive attitude, and don't give up."