Mann listened for nearly an hour as Cherry described his work, family life, and overseas trips—and a car accident years earlier that left him with chronic asthma. The asthma, along with the extremely elevated white blood cell count, pointed Mann toward a rare auto immune disease called Churg-Strauss syndrome, which often begins with asthma and then inflames blood vessels, causing pain in the extremities. His suspicions were confirmed with a tissue biopsy, and Cherry was immediately put on powerful steroids and immune-suppressing drugs. He was fortunate. "I was told that I wouldn't be alive today if I hadn't gotten there that week," Cherry says. "I would never have met any of my five grandchildren."