Brandi Benson was deployed to Iraq in 2008, but instead of fighting America’s enemies, she would soon fight the enemy inside her: cancer.
Brandi had only just begun her life as a US Army soldier when she was sent to wartime Iraq. In only two, short months, she was experiencing extreme fatigue, which she blamed on the rainy and cold winter weather. But when she discovered a large lump in her left leg, she knew it might not just be the weather.
Soon enough, doctors diagnosed Brandi with a rare type of cancer that grows in bones and soft tissue.
“After being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, I thought my life was over.”
It wasn’t over — but the battle against cancer had just begun.
Brandi’s world was flipped upside down. The diagnosis ended her military career and her sports life. A sports enthusiast for as far back as she can remember, Brandi played basketball and soccer in the Olympic Development Program and the Amateur Athletic Union. The disease ended up taking her entire adductor muscle, the muscle that allows you to sprint, move side to side quickly, and perform quick bursts of movement.
The cancer diagnosis was devastating. Unable to even bear 40 pounds of weight on her leg, Brandi was medically discharged from the military.
“… Leaving did not make me sad; I just felt like it was the right thing to do,” Brandi confessed.
Between February and November 2008, Brandi underwent 17 cycles of chemotherapy, several surgeries and physical therapy.
“The diagnosis and treatments seemed to issue their own death warrant and drain the very life I was struggling to keep,” Brandi said.
Brandi beat the cancer, but she was in for a long haul for recovery. And she couldn’t have done any of it without her family as her support system, her faith and a change in lifestyle. And the Law of Attraction, which she says changed her mindset about her chances for recovery. The Law of Attraction says when you put good into the world, you receive good things in return.
Ultimately, though, God had His hand in Brandi’s survival.
“I began to seek insight on proper nutrition, exercise and wellness practices that might help me heal,” Brandi said, “…and I do believe God played a key role in giving me a second chance at life.”
Although cancer took it’s toll for a while, eventually Brandi became an even healthier version of herself before cancer. She still leads an active lifestyle through yoga, pilates and salsa dancing. And she says cancer made her a more daring person.
“(Cancer) made me more alive and appreciative of life. I am thankful every day for everything because one minute you are healthy and fine and the next you have an enemy inside you, trying to kill you.”
Brandi is happy for a second chance at life, and she uses her second chance to help others across the globe.
Where in the World is Brandi Benson?
“By seeking the help offered by my surrounding community and making a concerted effort to revive myself — mind, body and spirit — I was able to make a full recovery, one that includes business ownership, world travel, the completion of health and fitness challenges, and a life journey I am excited to continue globally.”
Now Brandi is a veteran, speaker, author and founder of an employment service company, Résumé Advantage. She uses her past challenges to help others by advocating for cancer survivors, delivering quality employment services and volunteering with organizations such as The Livestrong Foundation, The Future Minds Literacy Program, and the Ella Foundation. She is also currently pursuing her PhD in Education at Concordia University in Chicago.
Her book, “The Enemy Inside Me,” is a tell-all of her battle with fighting cancer just after being deployed to Iraq. The takeaway she hopes readers see is that every moment is a gift, and every breath is a blessing.
Brandi Benson is a warrior and a phenomenal role model to look up to when we feel like giving up. There is always something waiting for us on the other side of the battle.
And if we allow ourselves, we can change lives.