ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army Recovery Care Program’s number one priority is to take care of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and prepare them to make a successful transition to civilian life or back to active duty. Not every Soldier assigned to a Warrior Transition Battalion will be able to return to duty, but for those who can, the WTB provides support to help make it happen.
In December 2018, Hawaii Army National Guardsman Spc. Italgia Botelho-Cho’s world was thrown into uncertainty as he arrived from theater with a growing axillary lump resistant to antibiotics. On January 2, 2019, Botelho-Cho underwent a biopsy and was diagnosed with a fast growing anaplastic T-cell lymphoma.
“It was scary at the time; not being sure of what was going to happen to me,” Botelho-Cho said. “I was in the hospital for about 10 days following surgery before I started my chemotherapy treatment.”
Treatments were difficult for Botelho-Cho both mentally and physically, often leaving him with nausea, vomiting and other side effects, that made life unbearable for the Cavalry Scout.
“I was in a bad place when I first started treatment and there were times when I just wanted to give up,” Botelho-Cho said. “The first few days after a treatment, I felt terrible and by the time I was feeling better, it was time for treatment again. It was tough, but the people at the WTB were there for me.”
Botelho-Cho was assigned to the WTB at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii while he underwent treatment and recovered from the T-cell lymphoma. Although he was born and raised on the island, his family now resides in Utah, which made his relationship with the staff at the WTB more important to him.
“There is no way I could have (gone through treatment and recovery) on my own. The WTB helped me so much and is one of the best things to happen to me,” Botelho-Cho said. “My squad leader and the rest of the staff gave me so much support and were a huge part of my recovery.”
Spc. Botelho-Cho began participating in adaptive reconditioning events to regain his strength and fitness. Adaptive reconditioning events like cycling, volleyball and paddling, activities he had never tried, helped him get back to where he needed to be physically.
“Adaptive reconditioning activities were great for me. I really liked paddling because it is a great way to clear your mind and relax. Being on the water is very calming and peaceful too,” Botelho-Cho said.
In August 2019, he was an integral part of the team that competed in a regatta, a series of boat races, as the anchor of the craft, bringing his team to take second place in the event.
“After everything I had been through, participating in the regatta was a great experience for me and being able to do it with people from the WTB made it even more special.”
On July 31, 2019, the oncologist told Botelho-Cho he was in remission. A few months later, Botelho-Cho received orders to return to his unit. Grateful to be back on active duty, he gives credit to the WTB for helping to make it possible.
“The WTB is what you make of it. It has a ton of resources available to you and the staff is there to help you get better,” Botelho-Cho said. “If not for the WTB, I don’t know if I would be where I am now. Being there gave me the time I needed to heal, recover, get stronger and ultimately return to my unit.”
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