Laura Monk was a newlywed when she moved to Fort Bragg with her husband Austin in 2009. He deployed to Iraq shortly after. While serving overseas, he was diagnosed with leukemia. They spent most of their two-and-a-half year marriage negotiating his illness and cancer treatments.
"We had to adjust to a new normal," Monk recalled.
Austin received a bone marrow transplant in May 2011 that seemed to turn things around.
"The doctors even said after his transplant, 'OK, things look great, things look good,'" said Monk. "And then, it wasn't so great anymore."
Austin passed away in 2011 but Monk decided to stay near Fort Bragg to be close to the network of support she's found through the Army's Survivor Outreach Services.
"For me, this was home. I had my community here," she said. "I just chose to stay and I'm so glad I did because I have that connection still to the military. I have that connection to do things here to honor and remember him. He is ingrained in Fort Bragg in every way I can imagine."
On May 19, Monk will run in the SOS's Race, Honor and Remember 5k race.
"It is my goal to run this to the best of my ability in honor of him and in honor of his sacrifice. I know he would think I was crazy and say, 'Baby, are you sure you can do it?' but I know as long as I keep the memory of him with me, I know I will be successful."
Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org