Expressing more in a 2 minute race than most will in a lifetime

Expressing more in a 2 minute race than most will in a lifetime
SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- The choice is chillingly simple: Give in to the disease and the hopelessness, or make a stand, seek the light, and fight like there's no tomorrow.

Marin Morrison's choice is about brightness, and joy, and family. But it is also about swimming and the healing power of a girl who loves something very, very much.
 
You have no idea what it means for this girl to slip into the water. Two months ago, she didn't know any of the Eastlake High School swimmers. Now, she's at the center of their cheers and their hearts. And any one of them will look you straight in the eye and tell you they've never, ever met anyone like Marin Morrison.

When she's here, it must seem like a lifetime ago that doctors told her they were throwing in the towel -- that a tumor wrapped around the left temporal lobe of her brain was winning. They told her on that day she wouldn't live to see her 16th birthday.

"They had done everything they could do," said Marin's mother Nancy. "Like a mom, I started crying. And we left the room and she kind of hits me and says, 'Mom, don't believe 'em.' "

Marin's father Matt added, "first things first was survival. What do we do to survive? How do we help Marin survive? As we've come through it, it's become 'what do we do to thrive?' "

Marin's second brain surgery saved her life,  but left her paralyzed on the right side of her body, and it left her with a cruel thing called "aphasia". She can't express ideas that are very clear in her mind; they slip away from her just as she tries to speak them.   
 
She has taken up a kind of knitting, and now she makes beautiful hats. And on this night, she was thinking about a challenge she would face the next day: She would swim the 100 meter butterfly for the first time since she became ill.

The next day came, and Marin was nervous.

"I'm scared," she said as the race neared. But two of her friends comforted her: "Don't be scared! No, don't be scared you're gonna be great," they said.

How much must this girl love this sport? Maybe in the water she feels free again, and fluid and graceful. Maybe for awhile, she forgets about the battle raging inside her own head.

But one thing you can believe: To swim the most difficult stroke of them all -- the butterfly -- in a race with just one arm and one leg, she must love it so much.

The crowd cheers as she approaches the halfway mark, and their will becomes her will.

And now the whole building is screaming because everyone is aware they are watching something incredible.

It's the final lap; the others have long since finished. Marin is almost home; almost there.  And then, exhausted, she stops.  

It's hard for anyone to watch, but if you know who she was before the illness, if you know how close to greatness she came, well, then it breaks your heart.  

Marin Morrison was one of the finest young swimmers in the country.  Her records at Collins Hill High School in Atlanta still stand.

She broke county records and state records.

At 14 years old, her times were among the top-16 recorded in the entire country. She didn't just dream about the Olympics, she planned on them.

"I think she was in that arena," Matt Morrison said. "'I think she was not far from Olympic trials qualifying times."

The Morrison's are trying anything and everything to fight the tumor: chemo, holistic medicine, dieticians, and faith healers. Marin takes over 100 pills per day and she drinks something called puna noni juice. Go ahead, ask her what it tastes like.

"Like yuck," she laughed. "Like...poop!"

These girls all know the story. And so on this day, when this champion resumed the fight, they went wild. And Marin finished the race.

"Just watching her do that it's a miracle," one of her teammates said. "And it makes me very happy and proud of her."

The choice is chillingly simple. And Marin has made her choice -- she is making her stand. Her half a working body, and her struggles to express herself have become irrelevant.

She just expressed more in a 2-minute race than some of us do in a lifetime.

(You can see the video of this story at this link)