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    Chillin’ with A. Corona: Working Title
    By MC2 Alex Corona, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

    It’s an overcast and cloudy day, Aug. 5, 2015, and Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Robin Day and her husband are driving in their car, quietly. He holds her hand, tightly. Day has battled thyroid cancer for the last several months. They are on their way for Day to receive a thyroidectomy, to have the cancer removed from her neck.
    Suddenly, the phone rings, breaking the silence. Day receives a message from her command: she is going to put on anchors. The tension and anxiety is released from the car, if only for a moment. As they pull up to the hospital, the sobering reminder of what is waiting for her inside the building comes back to the surface.
    . . .
    Day was born in Connecticut, but never really had a place she called home. Her mother battled addiction and her father, a truck driver, was gone for long periods of time, driving across the country regularly.
    “Since dad was always gone and mom was doing her thing, it left my older sister and me to take care of our two younger siblings,” said Day. “When my dad finally had enough they got a divorce when I was 13. By then, my sister was gone and it left just me to take care of my younger brother and sister.”
    A short time later, Day’s father decided to take in her brother and sister, but it left her with nowhere to go.
    “I had about enough of my mom at that point so I dropped out of high school and moved in with my boyfriend,” said Day. “He was a few years older and had bought a house for me. We were both working and partying hard for that age. At 17, I miscarried and it truly devastated me, and he didn’t care. He was controlling and I felt suffocated. I knew I had to get out of there.”
    At 18, Day said her father rescued her from the situation, which enabled her to pick herself up and finally graduate from high school.
    “After high school I decided to join the Navy,” said Day. “I joined as an Information Systems Technician, but failed out of ‘A’ school. I had great leadership there and was able to re-class as an Aerographer’s Mate.”
    Day said she enjoyed the outside-the-box thinking the rate allowed and the experience she gained at her first command.
    “I was lucky and went to a really unique billet at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, in Pennsylvania.” said Day. “It was the first time I really learned who I was. I had my own money and freedom. My leadership immediately started to test me and it was extremely rewarding.”
    After her first command, Day went to “C” school where she learned weather forecasting and then chose to go to sea duty, declining orders to Germany. She relocated to San Diego where she joined the Strike Group Oceanography Team (SGOT) and, because of her top secret clearance, went on an independent augmentation to Seychelles, an island near Madagascar.
    “When I wasn’t supporting counter piracy missions I was playing Caribbean poker at the local casino, diving, or going on a run across the eight mile island,” said Day. “When I got back to the states it was back to reality and onto [the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)] for their deployment around the world. On our way home I started to notice a decline in my energy and started gaining weight.”
    When Day completed her tour at SGOT, she transferred to Naval Special Warfare Command where she married the love of her life and was selected as the 2014 Sailor of the Year, but her health started to rapidly decline.
    “I was there for two and half years dealing with various symptoms ranging from crippling fatigue to my hair failing out,” said Day. “During all of this my future husband, Dale, was such an advocate for me. Without him, I don’t know where I’d be today.”
    After speaking to various doctors over six months, Day finally saw an internal medicine specialist. When Day’s medical team completed all the necessary tests, they found a lump of cancerous cells near her throat.
    “They called for me to do a biopsy and I did it, but my husband and I still decided to go on our honeymoon,” said Day. “We had already waited a year and needed to get our minds off of everything. On the way to the airport we got the call. It was confirmed. I had cancer.”
    Day said the hardest part of the trip wasn’t trying to enjoy their honeymoon; it was telling his family about her diagnosis.

    “He had recently lost his brother to cancer,” said Day. “His grandmother also passed away from cancer. It was just a scary time, but they were so supportive. He has an amazing family.”
    When Day and her husband returned from their honeymoon, it was time for her surgery.
    . . .
    Inside the hospital, Dale is told that Day’s vocal chords could get nicked during the surgery and she could possibly never speak again. As hours pass, he hears obscenities being yelled from the hallway where his wife was supposed to be having her surgery.
    Startled he stood up. It’s was her that he heard screaming. She didn’t lose her voice. The doctors didn’t give her enough anesthesia, but she would be fine. They inform him later that the surgery was a success.
    “After I got out of surgery and saw my husband I couldn’t have been happier,” said Day. “My chain of command brought me a plant and my personal qualification standard for chief season; I couldn’t wait to get back.”
    During chief season, Day was undergoing radioactive iodine inflation treatment, which completely depleted her thyroid hormones. She lost her motor functions and began to see things that weren’t there.
    “All of this craziness was happening during chief season and it really brought out the best in me,” said Day. “I was so averse to asking for help that it forced me to grow and push me out of my comfort zone.”
    After putting on her anchors, and almost a year after the surgery, Day received great news from the doctor.
    “I got a clean scan in June 2016,” said Day. “I was still dealing with some of the residual effects from the surgery. I was battling my weight and hormones and was told during sea duty screening that I could medically retire after only 13 years.”
    Day said after a long talk with her husband, it was clear she wasn’t ready to retire. They agreed it would become the biggest regret of her life and she should push herself to get healthy again.
    “I started to train every day and had a strict diet,” said Day. “I was able to lose 30 pounds and with the right medication, finally felt healthy. I was able to come back to SGOT as leading chief petty officer of the metrology and oceanography division. It has been amazing to be a chief at sea.”
    Day feels through all of her experiences that every moment is truly something to treasure.
    “When I think about all the things I had to go through to get here, I’m proud to have experienced all of it,” said Day. “The pleasant and the horrific. It’s about all of those moments. In the end, it’s those defining moments that make us the most resilient.”



    Date Taken: 12.15.2019
    Date Posted: 12.31.2019 21:59
    Story ID: 358088
    Location: US

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