FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fort Bragg soldier living with leukemia is determined to keep serving his country.
It’s a third enlistment that almost didn’t happen. Sgt. Jamien Frye was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, also known as CML, in 2009, one year after he joined the army.
“Let’s say I missed my medicine or whatever, I would feel weak or just drowsy,” Frye said.
Fatigue, weight loss and night sweats are common CML symptoms. Commanders say the intense physical training could make Frye’s condition worse. But that doesn’t stop Frye, who sometimes runs five miles even before physical therapy.
“(My cancer diagnosis) basically was just something that made me say look, OK, I’m gonna prove everybody wrong. I can still do this,” Frye said.
SFC. Tyesha Johnson, of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, says she has to keep Frye from trying to do too much and help him focus on his body.
“Frye would go get his bone marrow treatment and he would call me and say, ‘I’m done with my treatment, can I come back to work?’ And I would tell him no,” Johnson said.
In 2012, Frye was slated to serve in Afghanistan but later deemed un-deployable. He was recommended for medical discharge, but after review the military’s medical review board found him “fit for duty.”
Nearly 1,600 soldiers go before the medical evaluation board for various chronic illnesses. Officials say it’s a grueling process that can last up to eight months where authorities in Washington have the final say.
Col. Anthony Hirtz said: “(Frye) basically had to talk to several levels of experts into letting him stay in the military. And that’s why I love stories like this. That’s a soldier that’s highly motivated.”
Frye said a loving wife and a special 8-year-old keep him motivated.
“Everything I do, I think about my son, I think about my family. I can’t give up,” Frye said.
The soldier said since his illness was detected early on, and as long as he takes his medicine, doctors say he should have no limitations.