Petty Officer 3rd Class Elizabeth Smith – Called to Serve

“Every day is a chance to overcome, whether it is cancer, running a marathon, or just tying your shoes, your mindset is your greatest power.”

-Elizabeth Smith

Petty Officer 3rd Class Elizabeth Smith has lived a life of service … service to country in the Navy, service to family, and service to community. In 2017, her future took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a rare brain and spine cancer. An entirely new battle then began, one that would test Elizabeth in ways she’d never experienced before.

Elizabeth joined the Navy after graduating high school, attending boot camp just weeks after receiving her diploma because she “had so many positive influences in my life that were in the service, and I hoped to be like them,” she said. But less than a year later, Elizabeth’s doctor delivered heartbreaking news – Elizabeth had a malignant tumor, a discovery that was made only one day before she was set to go underway with her unit.

Soon, Elizabeth began treatment at Naval Hospital Bremerton, where her nurse case manager shared about Semper Fi & America’s Fund.

“I was about to have surgery, and she said that there was no better program to help my caregiver and me along the road ahead. Within two days, we got a call from them, and they started to help us right away,” she said.

Elizabeth underwent multiple surgeries, including a partial reconstruction, alongside chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and many other therapies to aid in her recovery. And throughout it all, The Fund, along with her wonderful mother, Stacey, never left her side. The Fund provided grants for Stacey to be with Elizabeth for 8 weeks, allowing Stacey to remain beside her daughter throughout Elizabeth’s surgeries and recovery. Most recently in 2021, The Fund also partnered with the Home Depot Foundation to provide Elizabeth with a snowblower and accessories, making certain that all of her needs were met. 

Throughout her battle with cancer, Elizabeth remained positive and kept her sights on the future, citing her family as the biggest motivation during her recovery.

“I knew I had to keep going because I wanted to see my younger family members grow to be the extraordinary people I knew they could become,” she said.

Currently, Elizabeth shows no signs of cancer, having persisted through this incredibly difficult trial and arrived on the other side with a spirit of gratitude and resilience, and as an active and cherished member of The Fund family. She now participates in weekly Zoom calls hosted by Veteran Leads and attends The Fund’s monthly women’s activities, which have allowed her to connect with other female veterans. Elizabeth’s caregiver has also attended caregiver retreats, and when asked what being a part of The Fund family means to Elizabeth, she said, “The relationships that are built between the veterans and staff create a safe place. They also have given my caregiver the opportunity to meet others going through similar things which has created a blanket of calm and friendship.”

Elizabeth now plans to volunteer in her community and beyond, always on the lookout for ways to give back to those around her. For everyone at The Fund, she serves as an incredible example of answering a call to serve, leading a life filled with positivity and strength with her kind, generous heart always on display.