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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Racquetball Helps Cancer Survivor

Grant Morrill plays and teaches racquetball at Central Penn Fitness Center in Union Deposit.

There is life after cancer

Looking at Grant Morrill, an international award-winning racquetball player, you wouldn’t know that just a few years ago he was given six months to live.

Morrill, 73, has been playing racquetball for 15 years. He competed at the Senior World Doubles Racquetball Tournament in Paris in 2000, winning two gold medals in the 55-plus mixed doubles, and the 60 men’s doubles.
Last week, he won a silver medal in the 70-plus division at the National Masters Racquetball Tournament in Allentown.

Last month Morrill won a bronze medal in the 65-plus division, and silver in the 70-plus division during the Senior World Doubles Racquetball Tournament, held in Kingscourt, Ireland from June 6-13.

But back in 2006, Morrill wasn’t feeling well.

“I kept feeling sicker everyday,” he said.

Eventually, he had to quit working.

“I thought that I was dying,” he said.

He was a mystery to his doctors, too. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong, he said.

Doctors at Penn State Hershey Medical Center referred Morrill to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer that damages lymph nodes and other internal organs.

For months, Morrill commuted between Hershey and Rochester for chemotherapy, radiation treatments, while participating in an experimental stem cell implant surgery.

At one point, Morrill was down to 95 pounds, he said.

On Christmas Eve of 2007, he received a lethal dose of chemotherapy and stem cell implants.

“I had to wait 100 days before they could run tests to see if it worked,” Morrill said.

Waiting for 100 days was hard, and not being able to eat was just as bad, Morrill said.

“When the doctor told me that I was cancer free, I started crying,” Morrill said.

Morrill is still cancer free and started getting back to playing racquetball last July.

“When I thought I was going to die, I had a will to live, and to play racquetball,” Morrill said.

Morrill said that the most important thing to him is keeping active and staying healthy.

“The reason I am able to keep going at my age is because I stay in good shape,” said Morrill, who plays and teaches racquetball at Central Penn Fitness Center, in Union Deposit, in addition to playing golf.

“I don’t know anyone who has as much willpower like him. He has a great sense of humor and he has always been a ‘stand-up’ guy,” said Joan Moore, a friend of Morrill’s for more than 37 years.

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