Cincinnati Reds third base coach Mark Berry has been diagnosed with cancer, but a conversation with his sister may have helped him catch it in time.
Doctors found the Reds coach’s cancer after a checkup during the team’s spring training physicals, though it wasn’t detected right away.
Berry said he first noticed in December that his tonsils were swollen, though he put it off as likely a cold or flu. When the pain remained after two weeks, the Reds coach decided to have it checked out.
“Then in the beginning of January, the lymph nodes in my neck felt like small marbles. Around mid-January I went to see a doctor,” Berry told The Associated Press. “Cancer was the last thing on my mind. We were going to spring training. We had an ear, nose and throat specialist examining us.”
The specialist recommended that Berry get two biopsies, but only one came out conclusive and tested negative for cancer. But Berry’s sister Michelle had gone through the same ordeal 15 years before, with a biopsy coming back with an incorrect result, and told him he should have it checked again.
At Berry’s request, the Reds team physician referred him to Dr. Corey Casper of the University of Cincinnati/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance.
“Dr. Casper told me that he thought it originated in my tonsils,” Berry said. “Wednesday they took enough of the tonsil to test it. Sure enough, the test came back and it was definitely cancer.”
Because the Reds coach discovered his cancer early enough, he said he has some good treatment options.
Berry seemed optimistic about his diagnosis.
“I have cancer,” Berry told reporters. “I know it sounds bad, the word cancer, but there are plenty of people in this clubhouse that have had it and I know people around the game who have beaten it. My sister had it and beat it. That part hasn’t bothered me.”
The Reds third base coach said he plans to stay with the team during his cancer treatment, at least for home games.