MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Michael Campofiori began dreaming of becoming a U.S. Marine as a child, but his chance of success sank when he was diagnosed with Leukemia, a disease that kills approximately half of those it afflicts, according to statistics from The American Cancer Society website.
Campofiori eventually beat Leukemia and has overcome many more obstacles in pursuit of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, but many battles remain.
After his cancer went into remission, Campofiori faced the challenge of applying for military service with the stigma of his medical history. He started with the Marine Corps but began to consider other branches after repeatedly encountering rejection. Few military recruiters were willing to run the required waiver, a lengthy process with limited prospects of success, he said.
"I was used to carrying my medical records because I knew the recruiters would ask me for them, but it would only take them a few seconds to say, 'No,'" said Campofiori. "I didn't get a chance to test. I didn't get a chance to PT. It was an immediate, 'No, we don't need you.'"
But Campofiori did not give up his passion to join the Marine Corps. Instead, he searched harder for recruiters willing to work with him. The New Jersey native's search brought him to South Carolina, where he met the Marine recruiters of RSS Myrtle Beach, who saw something special in him.
"He was a person with the drive to do more with his life, and to make it to recruit training after having cancer is one in a million," said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Falk, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Myrtle Beach.
"I've never seen anyone with Leukemia get approved at my level," said Falk. "He works harder in the delayed entry program than the average poolee."
Despite suffering from Leukemia, which causes weight and muscle loss, Campofiori achieved nearly perfect scores on the Initial Strength Test, a prerequisite for beginning Marine recruit training. He logged 29 of 20 pull-ups, 121 of 100 crunches, and a runtime of 9:18, just 18 seconds from perfect.
With the support of his family and friends, he is hurdling life's obstacles in pursuit of his goals.
"You have to be in it to win it and know that you have family and friends that are there for you," Campofiori said. "Believe in the fact that they have your back and you can get through anything."
Despite what Campofiori has already endured, more challenges lie ahead. He arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Dec. 10, and is currently training with E Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment. During the next three months, Campofiori will have the chance to definitively earn his place among The Few.