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NEWS | May 17, 2021

Surviving cancer: A Soldier's story of resilience, perseverance and taking on a new leadership role

By Maj. Ebony Gay 94th Training Division (Force Sustainment)

Serving as a commander for any service member is one of the most challenging aspects of a Soldier's military career. It takes an exceptional caliber of Soldier to step up to the plate to embark upon such a significant quest to command the men and women who make up our nation's military force. For one captain from the 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment, his command would be relinquished while the other would overcome a life-changing event upon her first company command at the largest training division in the Army Reserve.

The 94th TD-FS, a down-trace unit of the 80th Training Command (The Army School System), gathered at Fort Lee's Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters to bid farewell to Capt. Alex Singh, outgoing 94th TD-FS Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander and welcomed Capt. Theang Sterns as the HHC commander during the unit's Change of Command ceremony on April 9, 2021.

For Singh, a Troop Program Units officer, his first command concluded with completing countless tasks that played an immeasurable part in Soldier and mission readiness of the 94th DIV HHC. With his first command under his belt, Singh will depart the 94th DIV to continue his knack for leading Soldiers with a consecutive command position as he passed the HHC command torch to a deserving peer.

He expressed his thoughts about the selection of his successor. "We couldn't have gotten a better leader than Capt. Sterns to lead the 94th HHC," said Singh. "Not only is she competent at her job, but she is also good at bringing everyone together as a team. We were very impressed with how she accomplished the mission in the G4 and how she united section members as a team."

Singh went on to share his optimism of Sterns' ability to lead the Soldiers of the 94th DIV HHC, paid homage to Sterns being an inspiration, and conveyed Sterns' resilience to take on command following the recovery of an illness.

"I have no doubt that she will thrive while leading the HHC and am truly inspired to see Capt. Sterns rise to the occasion to lead Soldiers shortly after her cancer recovery,” Singh said. “It speaks to her passion for leading, commitment to the mission, and her care for Soldiers."

For Sterns, an Army Reserve Logistics Officer, her road to her first command came with a few bumps following her Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnosis almost a year and a half ago. "Cancer tends to throw a grenade into your life no matter what you do," said Sterns.

"In terms of my military career, not much was immediately felt. In a huge twist of fate, the global pandemic grounded a lot of things where I, like so many others, was confined to home and telework,” she said.

"Post-treatment, finding out how much my body had changed has been the most challenging thing,” said Sterns. “My hair fell out, and I had surgery. Between that and the side effects of treatment, a lot occurred. Life has continual wonder and things left to do. There is still too much energy in me, a sense that there is a path left to take, so I keep walking and let luck and providence guide me wherever my destination should be."

Sterns shared what motivated her to take command, give back to the Army Reserve, and her drive to persevere. "The military's health care system saved my life," she said. "I joined the service originally with the intent to give something back to my country."

Sterns has been in remission from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma since the winter of 2020 and feels there is a message in her story. "I simply need to keep going and let it play out," said Sterns. "Maybe the lesson is to remind those that are watching this unfold that the saga is not about unfortunate events taking hold. It's about finding the hope, the light, and the fight within yourself to get back up."