CHICAGO (CBS) — For Chicago police officers trying to get dangerous criminals and guns off the street, there were rewards today for a job well done.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy presented monthly commendations to 326 officers at Police Headquarters.

As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, one officer proved his courage before he even put on the uniform.

Tactical officer James Whigham Jr. was honored today for bravery, for arresting an armed robber right after the man shot someone. That is not his biggest foe, nor are the tough streets of Chicago’s Gresham neighborhood.

Whigham was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 21, then had two relapses.

“At times it leaves you with no immune system, and very low blood counts, and fragile,” he said.

Even so, Whigham said he never doubted he’d survive it.

“I don’t doubt when I have prayer in my hands. No, I don’t doubt,” he said.

At one point, his weight dropped to 110 pounds. His father, a former federal marshal and deputy police superintendent, said his first-born son was close to dying.

“They tell you about the fact that he will have no immune system. All of those things weigh on your mind,” James Whigham Sr. said.

Eight years ago, Whigham had a stem cell transplant. He regained his strength, and became a Chicago police officer; fulfilling a lifelong dream, and earning praise from McCarthy.

“It’s a great tribute to himself, it’s a great tribute to his family, and it’s a great tribute to this department,” McCarthy said.

Whigham Jr said, “I just said to myself, … you don’t give up. You don’t give up a fight.”

Today, James Whigham Jr. is 33 years old, and he said he’s cancer-free.

After countless rounds of chemotherapy, and a stem-cell transplant, dangerous criminals aren’t that intimidating.