Airman’s journey from active duty to fighting cancer, then back to work

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Airman’s journey from active duty to fighting cancer, then back to work

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Senior Airman Brandon Yuhaniak visits his father’s mechanic shop in Uniontown, Pa. During his first year at Kadena Air Base, Japan, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was sent home for treatment. He is now serving as an 88th Medical Squadron administrative technician at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. (Contributed photo)

Senior Airman Brandon Yuhaniak, 88th Medical Squadron administrative technician, with the Airman Medical Transition Unit, is a self-professed outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, fishing and being challenged, joined the Air Force in September 2014. He was assigned to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, for a year of technical training, then to Holloman AFB, New Mexica, and finally he made a permanent change of station to Kadena Air Base, Japan, where he was found to have cancer.

“I was originally supposed to spend a three-year tour there,” said Yuhaniak. “However, after my first year, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was sent home to receive treatment at the UPMC Cancer Center, Pennsylvania.”

He said, “I had six months of chemotherapy, and that was followed with three weeks of radiation.”

“My family was fortunately able to be with me through my treatments and follow-ups,” said Yuhaniak.

He stressed that the Air Force Wounded Warrior program has been instrumental in assisting him during his illness and recovery and helped him every step of the way.

According to the Air Force Wounded Warrior website,, The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program is a Congressionally mandated, federally funded program that provides personalized care, services and advocacy to seriously or very seriously wounded, ill or injured Total Force recovering service members and their caregivers and families.

“They even helped with finances and their support helped me get promoted to senior airman,” Yuhaniak said.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is his first base after treatments. He provides retirees and other veterans with their medical records.

His care management team includes Lt. Col. Jeremy Hooper, 88th Medical Squadron commander; Shawn Kramer, case manager; and Adrienne Clark, Air Force recovery care coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Program at Wright-Patt.

Yuhaniak explained that he gets scans every six months, and then after a year of clear scans, he will get a scan once a year for five years, and his follow-ups are monitored by the Air Force Wounded Warrior program on Wright-Patterson.

“If my scans come back clear for five years, I will be deemed to be in complete remission,” he said.

Clark said that after he is determined to be cancer-free, he will go before the recovery team board for a determination whether or not he can return to active duty.

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