SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: September 26, 2006
Sky's the limit for cancer survivor
Uri Berenguer-Ramos, cancer survivor and Spanish-speaking broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox, speaks to the workforce during the U.S. Army Soldier System Center's Hispanic Heritage Month Program on Sept. 18. (Photo by Sarah Underhill)
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NATICK, Mass. -- Overcoming adversity and looking to the future were key messages from Uri Berenguer-Ramos, cancer survivor and Spanish-speaking broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox, during the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center's Hispanic Heritage Month Program in Hunter Auditorium on Sept. 18.
Berenguer came to the United States from Panama at the age of three after having been diagnosed with cancer. He has awful memories, he said, and wouldn't want anyone to experience what he had to.
"At the end of the road, I am glad it all happened. It made me the person I am today," Berenguer said. "If it didn't happen, I wouldn't be in the U.S. I wouldn't have met the wonderful people I did. I wouldn't have a World Series ring on my finger."
His cancer was originally discovered at a hospital in Panama. He had a number of tumors, with the largest one in his right leg. After trying surgery, the doctors decided that in order to help him live longer, they needed to amputate his leg. At the time, both parents had to sign the form giving authorization for the amputation. His mother decided she wanted to get another opinion. They met with a doctor who had studied at Harvard University, trained at Children's Hospital Boston and who was also involved with the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
His mother, leaving her husband and daughter behind, and not able to speak English, brought Berenguer to the U.S. for treatment. The day they arrived it was snowing, Berenguer said. "Never mind culture shock, we were going through weather shock."
Through the following years, he underwent more surgeries, including the one that would save his leg, had chemotherapy, radiation and rehabilitation at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Berenguer said that he thought Boston Herald reporter Steve Buckley described it the best. Buckley described Berenguer and his mother as a small Panamanian island of two in Boston.
Although fighting the disease and despite many relapses, Berenguer was able to do many things that he thought he never would. Not only was he able to walk, but he played sports such as baseball and football. Through his association with the Jimmy Fund, he met Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione. Castiglione invited Berenguer to come to his booth at Fenway and eventually Berenguer ended up interning for Castiglione.
Originally the doctors were not sure if Berenguer would ever be able to speak because when they treated the tumors, the radiation was applied directly to his brain. Once again, Berenguer went on to prove them wrong. In the spring of his freshman year at college, Berenguer was offered a full-time job covering the Red Sox for WLYN and the Spanish Beisbol Network. He became the youngest broadcaster in baseball history. And in February 2002, he was declared cancer-free after four consecutive years in remission.
These days, Berenguer is one of WROL's lead broadcasters and he also hosts a daily baseball show entitled, "Hablando Pelota" on satellite radio.
"The sky's the limit," Berenguer said. "I still have things to do. Goals to achieve."