Swanton Police Chief Adam Berg is proof of second chances and the power of positive thinking.
Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, Berg’s illness this summer was declared dormant, meaning it hasn’t increased or metastasized to other areas of his body. It’s an optimistic sign, and due in no small part to Alecensa, a relatively new medication developed specifically for treating non-small cell lung cancer. Berg takes it in pill form twice a day, and will need it the remainder of his life.
The drug is shockingly expensive, however, and the hope is that the police chief can continue to receive it.
“He’s still taking it, and will forever take it,” said Veronica Rodriguez, Berg’s aunt who helped raise money for his medical expenses.
Belonging to a class of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Alecensa works by slowing or stopping cancer cell growth in the lungs. Berg became qualified to use it after a certain type of mutated gene was identified with his illness. Due to its specific nature, Alecensa can cost as much as $15,600 for a four-month supply.
A fundraiser created by Wauseon police officer Madelyn Griffin earlier this year, and arranged by Griffin and Rodriguez, sold over 900 custom T-shirts sporting an American flag with a blue stripe representing law enforcement and a white ribbon symbolic of lung cancer awareness. The declaration “I got your six” on the shirt is police jargon for “I’ve got your back.”
“It helped him a lot,” Griffen said of the fundraiser’s success.
Rodriguez hosted a second fundraiser in June and July featuring her own custom design printed on T-shirts, hats, bags, and mugs.
And monetary donations are still being accepted through an Adam Berg Fundraiser account at the Fayette branch of Sherwood State Bank, with checks made out to Samantha Canfield, Berg’s fiancee.
All fundraising proceeds go directly to Berg to assist with his medical costs.
Rodriguez said the lung cancer diagnosis was blindsiding for Berg, who is a non-smoker and grew up in a smoke-free home. He had battled a persistent cough for a year before X-rays revealed his lungs were inflamed. Berg was treated with steroids but the cough got worse.
Later, a computerized tomography (CT) scan showed lung cancer.
Despite the advanced state of his illness, Berg has handled his illness well, Rodriguez said.
“It’s either going to rip you apart, or it will make you come together even stronger,” she said. “It’s just an every day prayer that it doesn’t recur, that you remain cancer free. The power of prayer, the power of a positive attitude is amazing.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.