Face of Defense: Resilient Soldier Fights, Beats Cancer


When Army Sgt. Joseph Mickonis called his fiancee early in 2016 to say doctors thought he might have cancer, he couldn’t stop laughing.

“I’m trying to tell her she should come down to the hospital, but I can’t stop laughing,” he said. “So, she doesn’t think I’m serious. It was just one of the weirdest feelings, ever.”

Mickonis said he didn’t think it was a joke; laughing was just his way of dealing with the news. After some tests, doctors confirmed it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that spread in his neck.

‘What’s Next?’

“I didn’t break down in tears, I was like, ‘What’s next?’” Mickonis said.

What was next was an estimated four months of chemotherapy, which turned into nine months. He would leave his platoon in 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, where he served as a mortarman and joined the Warrior Transition Battalion to focus on his medical appointments at Tripler Army Medical Center at Fort Shafter.

Now, almost a year and a half later, Mickonis is cancer-free and ready to return to his unit.

A close friend in his company, Army Spc. Jacob Lewis, was with him through the entire process.

‘It Never Really Got Him Down’

“It never really got him down,” Lewis said. “He always just did what he…

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