Navy SEAL and Cancer Warrior

Trainees require great physical and mental strength to become Navy SEALS.

A 14-year-old boy from North Carolina named BJ Correll knows a thing or two about bravery and strength -- he has been battling leukemia since he was 11.

He was in sixth grade when he was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

Having relapsed before the end of treatment, BJ continues to put his faith in God and he and his family maintain hope as he is placed on a clinical trial at Duke Medical Center.

Battle with Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also called acute lymphocytic leukemia, is a cancer that starts from the immature, developing white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow -- the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made. B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes -- or B-cells and T-cells, for short -- are two kinds of lymphocytes, and BJ’s leukemia is the B-cell kind of ALL.

As reported in the Lincoln Herald, the year following BJ’s diagnosis was hard because he was considered very high risk, meaning he had to endure intensive chemotherapy, spinal taps with injected chemo into his spinal fluid, blood and platelet transfusions, painful intramuscular chemo shots, and handfuls of oral chemo pills every day.

Physical and Mental Strength

Nonetheless, when the 2013 football season came around, BJ was determined to get back out on the field -- which he did. His football gear included an item typically used in baseball to protect the heart-area of the chest, but in BJ’s case it protected his port -- the device rigged with a tube to his large veins for easy access and delivery chemotherapy and other medications.

Treatment of childhood leukemia can be very lengthy and trying, but BJ was doing well, and looking forward to his final date of active treatment, January 4, 2016. However, his doctors detected a disease relapse in May of 2015. According to the Herald, his early relapse changed his treatment plan to a bone marrow transplant, but after 3 cycles of harsh chemo treatments over the summer, doctors were unable to get him into remission.

Duke Medical Center and the Navy SEALS

Today, many people with cancer seek newer, cutting-edge treatments by participating in clinical trials. BJ has been placed on one such clinical trial at Duke Medical Center. His family reports to the Herald that, throughout the past 3 years of fighting this battle, BJ remains steadfast in his faith in God, and wholeheartedly believes that whatever God’s plan is for his life, it is good.

His combination of physical and mental strength -- inspiring to all -- did not escape the attention of a group of retired U.S. Navy SEALs who made BJ an honorary member in December of 2015. As reported by Fox News, it turns out BJ had discovered his dream of becoming a SEAL after completing a middle school project; his honorary membership to this elite group came as he received a surprise visit from veterans while undergoing treatment in North Carolina for his second battle with leukemia. The vets noted his strength and endurance, and said they’d be proud to serve with him.

How You Can Show Your Support

The family is keeping supporters updated through two sites:

Cure for BJ Round 2 Facebook page:

GoFundMe page:

Facebook Update - January 27, 2016

"BJ was moved to the PICU this morning at 0630, and his increased dose of blinatumomab began about 1030. Today was supposed to be the day we flew to Hawaii for BJ's Make-A-Wish trip to the Pro Bowl. What an awesome time that would have been.... a world away from home, from cancer, and nothing but sunshine and fun. We'll be there next year for sure!"

Facebook Update - December 30, 2015

“It was a pretty quiet day for BJ. He had an abdominal x-ray to check the stent placement due to some pain on his right side since the procedure. He wasn't as nauseated today as yesterday, and his bilirubin levels are coming down as well.

His white blood cell count is still less than 0.1. Hopefully his bone marrow will start to produce some white blood cells within the next 10 days. We're on day 21 since he started the clofarabine/mitoxantrone chemotherapy.”

We had a visit from pet therapy today. Sadie is one of our favorites, because she reminds us of our dogs. She's a Moyen, a medium-sized poodle. Our dogs, Charlie Brown and Lucy are miniature poodles. Sadie was able to get a smile out of BJ. It was a short visit because BJ started to feel a little nauseated again.”

Thank you for your continued prayers for BJ, and the other kids fighting cancer.”


Scott Mayes. Lincoln Herald. NLHS Student BJ Correll Fights Cancer. 11/4/2015. Accessed December 2015.

Business Insider. A retired Navy SEAL commander explains 12 traits all effective leaders must have. Accessed December 2015.

Fox News Health. Boy battling leukemia for second time made honorary Navy SEAL. Accessed December 2015.



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