Army overlooks soldier’s cancer for years, VA finds it in days

Leavenworth VA medical center

A US Army Soldier endured cancer for two years without detection by Army doctors, and it wasn’t until his discharge that he learned how serious the problem really was.

Carson Thomas, a former Army Infantryman, had initially been feeling groin pain when he reported his issue to medics at Fort Carson, Colorado, in 2012. After being sent to the hospital, he was checked over by doctors.

Told he might have a hernia, he was put on light duty and sent back to work.

Over the next few years, he returned to the doctors several times in an attempt to find out why he kept feeling the pain, which had spread upward along his body. Handed Ibuprofen and gradually placed on more restrictive profiles, Thomas eventually found himself being resented by the medical staff.

“That type of care, they just treated me like I was a dude just trying to get on profile,” he said. “That’s how I felt the whole entire time. They just treated me like a piece of sh*t.”

But piece of sh*t he was not, as he soon found out when he visited the VA after being discharged in 2014.

Complaining of severe swelling in his neck and around his shoulders, he went to his local VA emergency room in Columbia, South Carolina- hoping for anything but Motrin.

“I thought I broke my collarbone, and I went to the ER at the VA in Columbia, South Carolina, and they did some X-rays, and it turned out it wasn’t my collar bone that broke, it was a lymph node in the lower part of my neck, where my collar bone meets my neck,” Thomas recounted. “A lymph node exploded there, and that’s what caused the giant lump and swelling.”

Two days later, Thomas learned he had what would soon be stage 4 germ cell testicular cancer.

In the two years that the Army had found nothing, the cancer had spread from his right testicle, growing up the right side of his body like kudzu, slowly choking the life out of his body.

By the time it was detected, it had taken over several major organs.

While Thomas is suing the US Army for malpractice, the 1950 US Supreme Court Ruling of Feres vs. United States may have his case result in a dead end. According to the ruling, the federal government can not be held liable “for injuries to members of the armed forces arising from activities incident to military service.”

Since 2015, Thomas has fought the cancer, and has had all but a small amount removed. He also lost a testicle.

“They removed the cancer around my kidney. They removed it around my heart. They couldn’t get the tumor that was in my liver, but it’s dead. They biopsied it,” Thomas said. “Out of all the cancer they took out of me, they had to leave a small percentage below my heart, because I was already on the table for so long.”

Since then, however, he’s had numerous and often deadly health complications as a result of the treatment.

“I have experienced many issues with daily life,” he said. “I have chronic pain, still struggle with diet, joints are weaker, chemo brain makes it hard to focus and I have noticeable memory loss. I do what I can and focus on trying to keep my health as good as it can be from here on within my capabilities. I can no longer reproduce and the aftermath from my cancer does affect my personal life.”

His biggest regret, however, is that he served in the Infantry but never got to deploy.

“In my eyes, I’m the black sheep out of my flock, my tribe,” he said. “All the infantry guys, we live for deploying, and I missed out on two deployments because of my hernia at the time. That sucks. I got shafted. I got cheated from what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be.”

Now, his goal is to try and ensure other “Joes” don’t suffer his fate.

“It’s just not acceptable, and it needs to stop,” Thomas told Task & Purpose. “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I had to go through.”

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