About a month ago, Alex Berking, an assistant athletic trainer at SUNY Potsdam, went to the Canton-Potsdam Hospital with headaches and vision problems. A few days later, she was undergoing surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center to remove 90 percent of a cancerous brain tumor.
Now Ms. Berking is preparing for radiation and chemotherapy treatment to eliminate the last of the tumor with the support of the SUNY Potsdam community.
During the women’s hockey game on Tuesday, Ms. Berking skated out to join the team for their photo out on the ice.
“The players really like her,” said Daniel H. Bronson, SUNY Potsdam sports information director. “I think she’s pretty close to the team.”
Ms. Berking joined the athletic department before the 2015-16 season, and works with players on a number of teams, including hockey, lacrosse and soccer, evaluating injuries and helping them recover.
“She’s a great person,” said Michael Pitts, head athletic trainer. “Most people, if they got news like that, would go into a shell — but not Alex.”
Ms. Berking’s diagnosis came about a year after her father, Christopher Berking, died of cancer. This past summer, her sister, Meghan Berking, ran across the country in honor of their father, covering over 4,000 miles with a team of runners to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
As Ms. Berking faces her own cancer treatment, the athletes she has helped — current and former — have rallied to help her.
Ms. Berking is scheduled to undergo six weeks of intense radiation treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. After that, she hopes to return to work while undergoing chemotherapy treatment in Potsdam.
Two days ago, Jordan Ott, assistant softball coach and Ms. Berking’s roommate, started a GoFundMe online fundraiser. At the time of writing, it had already collected over $23,000 in donation, many from current Potsdam athletes or alumni of the program, according to Mr. Bronson.
Starting this weekend, all Bears games will have buckets for collecting donations toward Ms. Berking’s care, and all money raised from chuckApuck competitions at hockey games will be donated to her.
To learn more, or donate to Ms. Berking’s care, visit https://www.gofundme.com/alex-berking.