Joel Berger was at his desk that January day when his doctor called from his cell phone, and Berger learned the news that would change his life.
He was told he had prostate cancer.
"This year has been very tough," said Berger, who had a five-hour surgery to battle the cancer.
He is now "feeling good, all corrected."
Berger was supported throughout the year by Imerman Angels, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that provides free, one-on-one cancer support services for cancer victims, survivors, and caregivers.
An angel once even picked up Berger from the hospital.
He had been recommended to Imerman Angels by a friend "because I was so upset and looking for help, support to get through my own cancer."
Berger has been supported by the Angels with regular phone calls and more. As he put it: "whatever it took to get me through this; they have been so, so very helpful."
Berger is one of 13 openly gay Chicagoans supported by Imerman Angels, according to a program manager for the charity.
There are 543 Angels in the Chicago area, and Berger is now one of themhelping and supporting others in need.
"After a cancer diagnosis, I now, for the rest of my life, always will have to look over my shoulder. But I'm now doing great, and am very proud to be an Angel myself," he said.
Berger will have blood work treatments every six months for the next two years, and then annually going forward.
Relationship status: Single
Job title: Clerk, Circuit Court of Cook County
Locally grown: Originally from suburban Skokie, graduated from Niles North High School
Cubs or White Sox?: Cubs
Favorite restaurant: Burger Bar
Favorite movie: Captain Phillips
Favorite TV shows: House Hunters International
Little-known fact: "At 6 weeks [old], I wasn't expected to live half an hour."