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Sailor beats cancer, re-enlists for active duty

Apr. 13, 2013 - 02:55PM   |  
Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class John Dusseau, 37, is a career Navy man who was diagnosed with cancer in his hip and was told he wouldn't survive more than a few years. He re-enlisted for active duty on Friday.
Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class John Dusseau, 37, is a career Navy man who was diagnosed with cancer in his hip and was told he wouldn't survive more than a few years. He re-enlisted for active duty on Friday. (AP)
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Dusseau is thanking a crew of nurses for another shot at life — and four more years in the U.S. Navy.

The petty officer first class re-enlisted for active duty Friday by taking an oath in front of nurses at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. He cried "tears of joy" as he praised a dozen nurses who inspired him with smiles and kind words during months of cancer treatment.

"You motivated me to come in many times when I wanted to give up. You were there for me every day," Dusseau said.

Dusseau, 37, is a career Navy man who transferred to Holland, west of Grand Rapids, in 2011 to work in recruiting. He soon was diagnosed with cancer in his hip and was told he wouldn't survive more than a few years.

For more than a year, he spent as many as five days a month at the hospital for grueling chemotherapy. It was a tough time, especially since he and his wife and four children have no other family in western Michigan.

"The nurses would call at home to check on him," wife April Dusseau told The Grand Rapids Press. "That means a lot. ... Somebody out there is wondering how you're doing and that makes you feel good."

Dusseau now has been declared cancer-free.

Jacki Northup, a nurse who worked with Dusseau, said it was "magical" to watch him in uniform take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.

"It really meant a lot to us," she said. "To have him perform that on our floor, to give thanks to us, was overwhelming."

Dusseau, a Detroit-area native, was placed on limited duty during his cancer treatment. He wanted to be approved for active duty so he could complete 20 years in the Navy before retiring. He's been in the Navy for more than 15.

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