Last year, Tyler Berry was working as a trainer at Hanscom Air Force Base while preparing to compete in the North East Regional. Training twice a day, he began to notice slower workout times.
“I would do 100 burpees or Fran or something like that, and the second I finished, I would just start coughing up pretty legitimate-size blood clots,” says the coach at CrossFit 2A in Acton, Mass.
Berry discovered a “huge bulge” in his groin area. Eventually he was diagnosed with germ-cell cancer.
“I went from slow 100-burpee times to barely being able to get off my couch to the point where I thought I was probably going to die,” Berry says.
What followed was excruciating: a 14-hour surgery in which his veins were replaced with those of a cow. Due to complications from the aggressive surgery that saved his life, Berry’s lymphatic system became unable to reabsorb fluid. Each week, he gained up to 50 lb. of fluid, which had to be drained.
“What really saved me is being in good shape,” he says. “Having woken up from surgery and having multiple doctors come in and say, ‘It’s a miracle you’re alive,’ I attribute that to my health and my attitude.”
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Additional reading: Giant Heart by Julie Buehler, published March 5, 2012.