This article by James Clark originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.
Lance Cpl. Caleb Eudy first stepped on the yellow footprints in 2016, and on April 26, he'll finally depart Parris Island, South Carolina as a United States Marine. Though recruit training is typically just three months long, for Eudy it was an uphill battle that took 956 days.
Just a month after arriving at boot camp, Eudy was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
"So i just got told I had a cancer, how do you react to that?" Eudy said in a Marine Corps video by Cpl. Andrew Neumann that chronicled his lengthy journey to become a Marine. "Most people don't know what that's like, ever. It's like 'hey you've got a deadly disease.' Do you say 'thank you?' Do you just stand there and stare? Do you cry?"
After his cancer was diagnosed, Eudy returned home to Alabama to serve with a reserve artillery unit in Huntsville, roughly 30 miles from his hometown of Arab. From there, he underwent cancer treatment, and fought to keep from being medically separated from the Marine Corps.
"I was like, I just need to stay in the Marine Corps," Eudy said in the clip. "The Marine Corps can do a lot of things for me and I think I can do a lot of great things in the Marine Corps as well, and I figure I should fight for it."
Eudy's battle with cancer lasted two years before it went into complete remission.
"He was ready to get all the chemo over with, get well, and get back to Parris Island," Eudy's mother said. "That was what he was determined to do."
Earlier this year, Eudy went before a medical board, which found him fit for duty and he returned to Parris Island as a recruit to finish his training. This week he completed the Crucible; the final challenge would-be Marines must overcome before they earn the title.
"Cancer took away everything, but it also gave me everything. It took away my mind, my body, my spirit, but it also gave me everything, because I realized we're not going to live forever, we're going to die one day," Eudy said in the video interview. "One day I'm going to wake up without my wife, or she's going to wake up without me. It just made me treasure the time that we have."
"I owe it to the Marine Corps, because they got me through the cancer," he continued. "They gave me the mindset that I can do anything, and I'm very thankful for that."
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