Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Berger, Bosco Exalt

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Berger, Bosco Exalt

Article excerpt

DEMAREST - The first chapter of Nick Berger's life is all about cancer and chemotherapy. In the most recent chapter, the Don Bosco senior center fielder is a county champion.

Berger, a Franklin Lakes resident, went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday, helping the Ironmen to their second straight Bergen County championship with a 9-5 victory over Bergen Catholic at Demarest High School.

It's a tired phrase to say these games are the ones high school players will remember for the rest of their lives, and much is always made about any Bosco/Bergen confrontation.

For Berger, 18, it's no exaggeration. He basked in the moment, holding his plaque close to his chest. It had been a long time coming.

"Nothing comes easy to me," Berger said with a smile. "I was in and out of the hospital all the time. It's especially meaningful that I can get through a full season like this. I just love it."

Diagnosed at age 3 with Burkitt lymphoma, a cancer that impacts the immune system and can be fatal, Berger went through almost 18 months of chemotherapy treatments to eradicate the disease.

"After that, the doctors just told us to treat him as if nothing ever happened," said Berger's mother, Catherine Cammarota. "So we did, but because of the chemotherapy, his immune system was a little off, so we just had to be careful."

And like a normal red-blooded American boy, Berger took to baseball. But if someone on Berger's team got sick with a cold or flu, Berger often ended up in the hospital.

Still, he persevered, attending Bosco and having a successful freshman season on the diamond. Then his immune system betrayed him again. He missed part of his sophomore season with mononucleosis. He was diagnosed with a tumor on his spine before the start of his junior season, a scare indeed, but it was benign. He opened the season as the starting center fielder, displaying speed and a quick bat.

"Nick was a big part of what we had planned for success last year," Don Bosco coach Mike Rooney said.

The Ironmen were playing in California and Berger's back was still bothering him. He kept stretching and stretching, but the pain wouldn't go away. …

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