By Retired Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Donald Jackson
Team Navy member
Two years ago, a biopsy confirmed that I had throat cancer. And while it changed the course of my life, I don’t dwell on that diagnosis.
It’s no secret: Cancer isn’t any fun. It was an intense, tough recovery. But I want to look to the future, and to focus on
living life to the fullest. And, right now, that means winning some medals at the DoD Warrior Games – for me, my family and my incredible teammates.
How did I get here? Without a doubt, adaptive sports played a big role in my recovery – both mentally and physically. I have always been active – and a pretty serious sports fan – so, when I was stuck at home on the couch while my body healed, the idea of competing again, on a team of Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, was pretty compelling. Adaptive sports got me on my feet again.
And, since then, those feet have not stopped moving – and, at the track, they move pretty fast. I took home gold medals in various track events at last year’s Warrior Games, and at the Invictus Games in the U.K., where I raced guys from around the world. It has been a thrilling, unexpected ride.
Last year, I medically separated from the Navy, and, without sports, that might have been a pretty tough transition. But sports give me that sense of camaraderie – that community – that’s so essential to the Navy experience. Even though our backgrounds are very different – some people were shot in combat, others were in motorcycle accidents – I have a great connection with my teammates. Everyone on Team Navy has fought difficult battles. And the fight continues.
I’m no longer undergoing treatment for cancer, but my personal fight is not over. Earlier this month, I was involved in a car accident – one I am very lucky to have walked away from. I hurt my shoulder, and, unfortunately, that injury will prevent me from competing as an Ultimate Champion at the Warrior Games this year. But it won’t stop me from competing entirely. After everything I have been through, it would take more than a drunk driver to stop me.
Not many people are chosen to compete on Team Navy at the Warrior Games. I feel so lucky that my name was included on that roster. And I don’t intended to squander that opportunity. Since my cancer diagnosis, my life has changed tremendously, but so many doors have opened for me. And with support from my teammates – and from my family – I intend to make the most of every moment.
I’m not looking back – I’m looking ahead. And the future is golden.