Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Teen Bravely Battling Leukemia Named Honorary Navy Chris D'Angelo, Huffington Post

Teen Bravely Battling Leukemia Named Honorary Navy SEAL

BJ Correll knows a thing or two about fighting through tough times.

And at just 14 years old, BJ Correll has become the SEAL’s newest member.

U.S. Navy SEALs are an elite group of warriors — their training alone is considered “some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding” in the world.

And at just 14 years old, BJ Correll has become the SEAL’s newest member.

Rather than making it through the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, BJ proved he is worthy of an honorary spot on the force through his two battles with leukemia.

In 2012, at age 11, a healthy and athletic BJ played football for his middle school team, the Boger City Panthers. But two weeks into sixth grade, he got the devastating diagnosisacute lymphoblastic leukemia.

As a Navy SEAL would have done, BJ battled against the odds.

“BJ is 14 now and has been kicking leukemia’s butt for 3 1/2 years,” reads his GoFundMe page. “We were on the countdown ... He had 7 months of treatments left. He was scheduled to be done on Jan. 4, 2016. We were already beginning to plan the party to celebrate the end of his cancer treatments.”

Then in May, during a regular chemotherapy visit, doctors told him the cancer had returned. So once again, BJ has had to fight through chemo, blood transfusions, countless doctors visits, scans, injections and more.

BJ began dreaming of joining the Navy and becoming a SEAL during a middle school project, Fox 5 Atlanta reports. And when the North Carolina-based SEAL Swim Charities group heard the teen’s story, it decided to honor him.

“He shows the character of what a SEAL would be like,” retired Navy SEAL Stephen Brown of SEAL Swim Charities told Fox. “He’s very strong. He has gone through so much. So much pain, just not physically but mentally. And he stayed strong through it.”

Brown and other retired SEALs reportedly surprised the teen in his North Carolina hospital room, where they presented him with a flag and a plaque as a part of his official induction.

BJ’s mother told the TV station the gesture took her breath away.

He’s having a hard time right now,” she said. “It’s amazing for him to have what he’s wanted to do for his life.”

During his many procedures and medical visits, BJ now carries with him a trio of military coins — one from the Navy Academy, Air Force and Navy SEALs — and a SEAL Trident, which a former SEAL wore in battle and said BJ could keep until he earned his own.

As Time Warner News reports, the SEALs who visited BJ said they would be honored to serve with the teen and that he has helped them put things in perspective.

“With everything he has fought for and everything, he would make a great SEAL, he really would,” Brown said.

He’s the strongest person I know,” his mother wrote in a Facebook post back in August. “He still, even with immense pain, shortness of breath, anesthesia, procedures, fevers and being woke up every 2 hours, has not complained once. It’s more than a kid, or anyone for that matter, should have to endure; but he is stoic, with the most fierce determination I have ever witnessed.”

BJ’s family and friends have taken to his Facebook and GoFundMe pages to offer their support.

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