'Counting your blessings': Second opinion saves Brookfield man's life

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the world was coming to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, one Brookfield man was struggling to overcome a tough diagnosis. 

Odd symptoms like back pain, memory loss and brain fog forced Greg Berry to see a doctor, only to be misdiagnosed with obesity and early onset dementia. 

A second opinion saved his life.

"In about 20 minutes (she said), you're going to the hospital. Something is going on in your brain. I don't know what it is yet, but we'll figure it out," Berry said.

Berry was diagnosed with CNS lymphoma on March 18, 2020. The rare tumor caused a build-up of fluid in his brain, which doctors said was only hours away from killing him.

"It chokes me up a little bit sometimes," Berry said. 

A no visitors policy forced Berry to fight cancer without his family by his side. He doesn't remember much from that time, but the kindness of the doctors and nurses who stepped in will stick with him forever. 

Dr. Asad Khan, a neurooncologist at Aurora St. Luke's, called it a miracle that Berry is in remission today. 

"We're not just treating the tumor, we're treating the person. When I see him, I see that in the works," Khan said.

There are no preventative screenings for this type of cancer.

"You end up seeing them with several months of history, and then somebody does a scan or somebody does a neurological exam, and you see the deficit," Khan said. 

Thanks to Khan, the nurses who became like family, and that second opinion, Berry is adjusting to his new normal and a much healthier lifestyle.

"Before this happened, I took some things for granted," Berry said. "It's good for me that I did learn a few things."

Berry is back to work for five hours each day as a civil engineer, and he goes on daily walks with his dog, Phoebe. 

He wants patients to understand the importance of asking your doctors questions, and doctors to understand the importance of listening to their patients.

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