A sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy says she’s fighting two battles right now — one against breast cancer and another against the navy — over a disputed sick day last year.

'I'm fighting for my life right now and I'm also fighting for my integrity.' —Able Seaman and cancer patient Carol Anne Deyoung

"I can't put into words how it feels," said Able Seaman Carol Anne Deyoung. "I feel somehow betrayed."

Deyoung said she felt a growing lump in her breast last June and called in sick.

She was then ordered to go to a military hospital on Canadian Forces Base Stadacona in Halifax. She said she followed orders, but it took her two hours to get there.

A month later, she was told she was being charged with two counts of disobeying a lawful command and one count of  absence without leave.

"I was called into the office," she said. "I was read a cautionary statement. I was read my rights. I had the opportunity to contact a lawyer, I did."

Deyoung said the dispute is over the two hours it took to get to the hospital. She has since been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"They know what my current condition is right now," she said of the military prosecutors. "I don’t know what my prognosis is at this time. I don’t know if I’m going to make it."

Deyoung said she feels compelled to fight both battles.

"I'm fighting for my life right now and I'm also fighting for my integrity."

Deyoung won’t discuss the details of the case and what happened during her time off, on the advice of her lawyer Maj. Sarah Collins. Deyoung said she won’t consider a settlement.

"In my mind I am completely not guilty. That's why I chose a court martial. I didn't want to be tried in a summary trial because it feels that you're guilty walking in."

CBC News contacted the military for comment. They offered no other comment than to confirm that Deyoung’s court martial is going ahead on Tuesday.


Deyoung joined the military 3½ years ago, at age 41. She said she was proud to pass boot camp at her age and was thrilled to be a part of the navy.

"I always wanted to be part of the military. It was something I always dreamed of."

But Deyoung suffered a back injury at sea, and in a decision unrelated to these charges, she was set to leave the military on June 23. She planned to head overseas and teach English.

Before any of those plans, she faces a year of cancer treatment and a court martial, both starting the same day.

"It’s my understanding that it’s a weeklong event. The court martial is Tuesday morning. I have chemotherapy for four hours Tuesday afternoon."

Deyoung said it’s a struggle to deal with lawyers and prepare documents for the court martial while taking her aggressive medication. But she’s worried that if she doesn’t fight, the charges will follow her.

"These charges, as much as I feel that they’re nonsense, they have serious consequences under the National Defence Act."

Strong support system

Deyoung said she’s also motivated by the backing of her friends and family, but still feels betrayed.

"I just know that I'm sick, and I feel that I've been robbed of my opportunity to have some peace, to be able to go through my treatment, work towards being healthy."

Deyoung is desperate to put the charges behind her so she can focus on her health. But she also refuses to lay blame.

"I don’t want to say anything bad about the military, because quite frankly, I don’t know what the motive is."