There are times when you hear something that blindsides you, completely taking you off-guard, leaving you with nothing to do but fall on your knees in desperation. It completely takes the wind out of your sails, alters the entire direction that your life was headed. It leaves you lying in bed, feeling a sense of defeat and utter hopelessness, crying out one simple question: why?

For senior Berkley Walline, this moment came on Dec. 6, 2013, when he was diagnosed with cancer. For anyone, this news hits hard. But for a 17-year-old with so much life in front of him, it cut straight to the core.

“First finding out I had cancer was kind of an initial shock, like not really belief that it could happen to me,” Berkley said. “It’s caused a lot of stress, and I guess a lot of tears from many family and friends. No one really knows what to say or do.”

Before having any idea it was cancer, Berkley had not been feeling well. He was absent from school the week before he was diagnosed for what was thought to be pneumonia, but after being admitted to the hospital and having tests and X-rays done, they found out it was much more serious than that. The specific cancer type is adenocarcinoma, and although the source is unknown, the cancer has spread to his lungs, chest cavity, and lower back.
No one wanted to believe that this thing was really happening.

“The initial shock lasted a while. The reality of it never really kicked in until chemotherapy started,” Berkley said.

Chemo didn’t start for another 10 days. Those 10 days left Berkley with a lot of time to think and time to try to process what was going on. Not only was the cancer and the treatment going to be hard on him physically, but it also brought all different kinds of emotions that a normal 17-year-old should not have to face.

“The emotions are just up and down like crazy; it’s hard to contain them,” Berkley said. “I’m just trying to roll with the punches.”

Many times, a situation like this can cause a person to get angry at God and ask Him hard questions: Why am I the one stuck with this miserable thing? What did I do to have this thrown on me? For Berkley, it has done the opposite.

“It has had more of a good impact than a bad impact. I used to never read the Bible and now I’m starting to. I’m starting to try to grow [in] my relationship with Him,” Berkley said. “When I’m happiest, I’m just focused on God and knowing that it’s all in His hands.”

Berkley isn’t the only one whose relationship with God has been strengthened through this.

“It’s been strengthened for sure. More of an intimate, daily, sometimes moment by moment dialogue of trust and faith rather than fear and apprehension,” Melissa Walline, Berkley’s mother said.

The Walline family’s faith in Christ has been key when dealing with doctors and facing this disease head on.

“The thing about physicians is that they never factor in how Jesus is going to play, so we never ask them how they think Berks is going to do, because we know what his [Jesus’] capacity is,” Melissa said.

The Walline family is learning that it is out of their hands.

“I’m just handing it all over to God, and I am like, ‘Take it. Do whatever you want’,” Berkley said.


If you search #teamberkley on Twitter, you will see hundreds of tweets with this simple hashtag in it, trying to get the word out about Berkley and get more people praying. Some of them are tweets from people that have never even met Berkley. Even famous sportscaster Dick Vitale retweeted a tweet about Berkley.

“The whole Team Berkley thing is so awesome I think,” Berkley said.

The support that has come in as a result of this situation has been overwhelming. It is obvious how many lives are affected by Berkley and his story from the more than 6,000 visits to his CaringBridge website. And all of the support isn’t in vain. It means the world to him.

“I’ve had people come over to see me that I didn’t even think cared. I’ve had someone text me that had cancer and survived,” Berkley said. “So far it’s just been cool to see everyone coming together really.”

Many people have banded together and joined Team Berkley in his fight against cancer. Different people have been doing little things to show their love and support for him. A youth group in Texas that met Berkley through a mission trip this summer made a Youtube video with their entire high school holding up Team Berkley signs, cheering him on. KCC has made efforts to show their support too.

“The basketball team’s efforts and all the posts on CaringBridge and what not has really showed that there are a lot of people out there rooting for me,” Berkley said.

The KCC basketball team has dedicated their season to Berkley, and on their last home game, warmed up in their Team Berkley T-shirts. These shirts have become a hot commodity. Over 300 of them have been ordered, with even more people wanting to order them.

“A friend from church was at Panera in Corinth and saw three different tables that didn’t know each other at all that had on their Team Berkley T-shirts,” Melissa said.

The support that Berkley and the Walline family has received has been overwhelming. The prayer and encouragement gives them the strength they need to keep battling this thing, and keep hope alive, no matter what. Everyone who knows Berkley knows that he is a fighter, and he is going to fight this thing with everything he’s got. He even promised that he would be back in time for baseball season.

As for the student body, we can keep the support going. We can even bring in more support. Tweet #teamberkley. Pray for Berkley any chance you get. Tell other people about Berkley, so they can pray too. Wear your T-shirts every day if you have to. Do everything you can to get the word out. Do it because you care for Berkley, and you want to help him defeat cancer. Do it because no one fights alone.