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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2023

NCO triumphs over cancer, inspires others with resilience

By Airman 1st Class Ian Sullens 633d ABW PA

Born to parents from El Salvador, Tech. Sgt. Cendy Mascrier, 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron program manager, dedicated most of her childhood to helping her family, displaying service before self at an early age. Growing up in a low-income household, Mascrier did not think she could afford a higher education, which led her to join the Air Force.

In Mascrier’s family, it is not considered traditional to join the military as a woman. Her mother was concerned, but her father was proud of his daughter joining the Air Force. Little did she know, she would face a tumultuous journey during her career.

            In 2003, Mascrier graduated Basic Military Training, and by 2004, she had completed technical school and started her career as a fleet management and analysis apprentice.

“I joined as open admin and was picked up for vehicle maintenance,” said Mascrier. “I knew nothing of vehicles prior to joining; the Air Force taught me everything.”

Over the years, Mascrier’s assignments have taken her to bases in Missouri, Germany, New Mexico, Florida, and currently Virginia. Most of her assignments were routine and without incident.  However, it was in Germany, 2008, she faced one of her greatest challenges since joining the military.

 Feeling sick and suffering from insomnia she went to the clinic to find the cause of her sleepless nights, what the doctor found was far more serious then a lack of sleep. After an examination the doctor found a lump on her thyroid, the gland that controls your heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism. A biopsy later revealed that it was a malignant tumor.

The National Cancer Institute states that thyroid cancer also has the potential, if not treated, to spread to the lungs, bones, brain, liver and skin.

“I’m going to die,” said Mascrier. “That was my first thought. I was scared.”   

According to Mascrier, being diagnosed with thyroid cancer was terrifying and seemed larger than life. She attributes her ability to keep working, and functioning daily, to her supportive coworkers and family.

“The thing with being overseas, I found your support system is super tight knit,” she stated. “As soon as my leadership found out, they jumped on board, and they were always checking up on me.”

Along with the unwavering support she received from her colleagues, her loved ones were incredibly supportive as well.

“My husband, even though he was just as concerned as I was, was my ride or die,” said Mascrier. “Everything he did helped me not feel as though I was dying.”

 Mascrier went through radioactive iodine treatment and received surgery in order to remove her thyroid. She navigated a life altering situation with incredible resiliency. With the time that she spent in and out of the hospital, she made sure to always bounce back into her work when she wasn’t in medical care.

Since she no longer has a thyroid, Mascrier is committed to a lifelong regiment of medication that helps regulate her body temperature and metabolism. She has not let her new regiment hold her back from a fulfilling life or career. She is a proud mom of twins and is now a technical sergeant working at Joint Base Langley-Eustis as a program manager for Air Force contingency support and vehicle maintenance.

“Mascrier's story is one of resilience, leadership, and dedication to both her country and her community,” said Master Sgt. Paulino De Avila Diaz, 441st VSCOS life cycle management program manager. “Her remarkable journey and accomplishments continue to inspire those around her.”

Mascrier completed the 2023 Chicago marathon, a prestigious event in the World Major Marathon series, encompassing six iconic cities globally. Initially she entered on a whim but now her goal is to run in the remaining five cities. Mascrier continues to display resilience through her daily life by continuing to strive for that next achievement.  

 Reflecting on her journey, Mascrier stated, “I’m just happy that my story is out there. It’s the diversity of being Hispanic, being the mom of twins, and overcoming thyroid cancer while serving in the Air Force that I hope serves to inspire others.”