Brandi Benson’s remarkable story is not only a victorious one for Veteran’s Day, but also one of gratefulness on Thanksgiving Day, or truly for any day. Hers is an inspiring account of real bravery at its core. Right now, we are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19 and it can be hard to see the silver lining. However, Brandi has mastered thankfulness as a disabled veteran and cancer survivor.
Joining the military in the hopes of playing soccer for her country, she ended up fighting her own battle to survive a sudden, terminal illness. At a vibrant and fit age of 24, Brandi became a part of the three percent of 17.4 million veterans in the U.S. to experience a cancer diagnosis annually. This was an unexpected type of war that required the weapons of faith, hope, and strength.
Fresh out of basic training and only three months in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, an airplane ride to a hospital in Germany ironically propelled her toward the internal battle of Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer affecting only 12,000 people. Reeling in shock, Brandi was told she would need to have her leg amputated, which would crush her dreams of being a world-class athlete for the U.S. Army. Brandi was placed in a ward with 12 people who had different forms of cancer yet, incredibly, she was the only one to survive.
“I fought hard to overcome my diagnosis,” says Brandi. “I was determined not to become a victim to statistics.” Her mental toughness is what made a major difference in her prognosis.
Brandi dealt with feelings of hopelessness due to outdated treatment methods, spirals of negative thinking, self-blame, and denial. She pushed her way through by journaling her experience for her then two-year-old nephew to have memories to hold onto. Beating the odds of the 6,000 who will die and the 3,000 who will not live to the five-year mark from this illness, she embraced her new identity as a disfigured and disabled veteran, cancer survivor, and now author.
Brandi turned her journal into a book, “The Enemy Inside Me,” a story of inspiration for survivors of life’s battles. Her mission is to provide an effective blueprint of strategies and resources that survivors, their loved ones, and anyone struggling with “an enemy” in whatever form, can use to improve their overall wellbeing.
About Brandi L. Benson
Brandi L. Benson is a veteran, speaker, author, and cancer advocate based in Miami, FL (from Novato, Calif.). Joining the military in hopes of playing soccer for her country, she ended up with her own battle. Fresh out of basic training and only three months stationed in Iraq, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, at age 24. Walking away with one less muscle in her left leg, she triumphantly defied odds. Brandi has written magazine blogs for Conquer Magazine, Cancer Wellness Magazine, American Cancer Society and more sharing her story. She is the spokesperson for Bristol Myers Squibb alongside ABC’s This Is Us Sterling K. Brown, has signed a modeling contract with HOP Models & Talent Agency, and is the author of The Enemy Inside Me, available on Amazon. For more information, visit https://brandilbenson.com/.