A lot of people may not understand the difficult battles ahead for All-Pro safety Eric Berry as he prepares to do battle, mentally and physically with a much greater opponent in lymphoma. For those who don’t know, it is a form of cancer that impacts the immune system, attacking white blood cells called lymphocytes. Recent medical examination revealed a mass in Berry’s chest, leading to a probable diagnosis of the disease.
Ever so suddenly, what has been a fantastic season for him and his fellow defensive teammates is over.
“I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent. I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God’s hands and I have great peace in that.”
The good news is Berry isn’t alone in his fight. Everybody from family to friends to his Kansas City Chiefs teammates have provided him a strong network of support for anything he needs. Even the Twitter universe came out in full force.
— ROBERT MATHIS The1st (@RobertMathis98) November 24, 2014
Praying for Eric Berry @Stuntman1429 to have healing. Rooting for you to stay encouraged. Stay Strong boss.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) November 24, 2014
We may be rivals on the football field, but we’re all part of the @nfl family. Best wishes to Eric Berry.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) November 24, 2014
Something else the 25-year old can take advantage of is calling up other people and even athletes who have dealt with this same disease in the primes of their pro careers. Among them is a rising baseball star in Chicago Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Back in April of 2008, he was working his way up the ranks in the Class A ball, batting .360 at the time. Then people started to notice his legs were swelling to abnormal sizes. Rizzo put on 15 pounds. It wasn’t affecting his play so he didn’t worry much but still went in for tests. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When explaining how he was able to attack the ailment through treatment and activity, Rizzo was quite clear.
“It was just a mentality that when the treatments were done, I would just go on and live my normal life. That is the way I approached it and the way my family and friends approached it, so it was just doing the treatments and getting it over with and getting healthy again.”
Fellow All-Star Jon Lester, former pitcher of the Red Sox and now free agent target for the Chicago Cubs was also a huge help during the process as well. Lester too has endured the battle with lymphoma and knew the pitfalls of the process, which Rizzo claims was a huge help in him weathering the storm and coming back healthy and stronger than ever.
Baseball and football may not be the same sports, but battling cancer bridges gaps few other things can. Eric Berry has a tough fight ahead of him, but he doesn’t have to do it alone. Anthony Rizzo knows that, and can help if the two ever came in contact. Just like others did for him.
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