20-year-old Coast Guardsman overcomes cancer in only one month

When Derek LeCompte was only 20 years old, he was diagnosed with an early stage of Testicular Cancer.

In 2014, LeCompte discovered an unusual bump that he immediately got checked out by a doctor. Sure enough, LeCompte, who is a member of the United States Coast Guard, received life changing news.

LeCompte is of a family of five, with two siblings and happily married parents. At the time he was diagnosed, he was also dating a young woman with whom he had been with for a few years by then. When asked how his diagnosis affected these relationships, LeCompte said, “My family friends and girlfriend at the time we’re all upset and scared for me but very supportive throughout it all.” His mother went to every doctor appointment with him.

About one month after his diagnosis, LeCompte received an orchiectomy, which is a procedure in which the surgeon removed his left testicle. The surgery was successful, and it quickly got rid of the cancer. Luckily, it was detected early and hadn’t spread at all. He received his treatment at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Treatment Center in Covington, Louisiana.

LeCompte graduated high school from Mandeville High School in 2012. Immediately after graduating, in August 2012, he joined the US Coast Guard. Two years later, when he was diagnosed with cancer, LeCompte said it did not affect his career at all.

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States responded by deploying military personnel in Southwest Asia. With all of the follow up appointments and stress of the cancer, LeCompte was still able to go on his deployment and provide port security in Guantanamo Bay as a Coast Guard Coxswain in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He patrolled the waters in and around the area providing security to the base and ensured no unauthorized boats were able to pass into their security zone. As a Coxswain, LeCompte had his own crew and was in charge of a 32-foot US Coast Guard boat.

While deployed in Guantanamo Bay, LeCompte stopped 50 targets of interest from entering US waters. He also seized 1.5 million dollars worth of marijuana, and he responded to and rescued 11 boaters who capsized, or overturned, during a thunderstorm.

While juggling his career and the cancer, LeCompte was also attending Southeastern University in Hammond, Louisiana. He was studying Business Administration. He did not let anything slow him down, though. LeCompte only missed two weeks of school and was even able to make up any graded assignments that he missed. He finished that semester with a 3.2 GPA.

In high school, LeCompte was a star football player. He played center all four years of high school and his father was even one of the coaches of the football team. While LeCompte never had intentions of playing college football, his cancer didn’t stop him from playing with his friends in college. He currently plays intramural football at Louisiana State University, where he is continuing school and studying the same thing he studied at Southeastern University.

When asked what his first thought was when he was diagnosed, LeCompte said, “I was nervous but knew with the people in my life and my faith that I’d be okay.” He said that this time in his life only made his relationships stronger.

The cancer does not affect LeCompte’s life today, other than routine check ups. For two years after his surgery, he had to get blood drawn and a CT Scan every six months. After two years he was determined officially cancer free. Now, he only has to go to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center once a year for a check up.

LeCompte is full of personality. Meeting him for the first time, one would have no idea he had gone through anything like this. He has no problem being asked about and talking about his fight with cancer, claiming that it was barely even a fight at all. He looks at it as a learning experience, vowing to always look at the positive in life and to try to be as optimistic as possible. He even said that it the only way his life would have been different had he not gotten cancer is that he would “have one less scar and one more ball”.

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