Get To Know BodyBusiness Member Grant Morgan
Acrochordus Javanicus, more commonly known as the Elephant Trunk Snake, is widely considered one of the most intriguing and unique species of snake. The Elephant Trunk is an aquatic snake and uses scales located on its loose, baggy skin (hence the name Elephant Trunk) to capture then squeeze the life out of fish. These scales are so sharp that even the slimiest of prey cannot escape its grasp.
Grant Morgan, a man with an unbound love for snakes and a self-described “herpetologist,” knows the feeling of being caught in the grasp of something – feeling life slip away from one’s own body, desperately trying to escape death’s icy hold. He’s fought off lung cancer, survived chemotherapy and, despite being told that only 5% of patients survive the surgery he underwent, lived on to tell his tale and is now squeezing the most out of life that he can himself.
Morgan spent years attending a “hardcore iron” gym before he decided he needed some direction. “I was getting big. I had developed bad form over the years,” said Morgan. “I wanted a gym that had a lot of things going on.” Grant Morgan found himself at BodyBusiness’ doorstep in need of a place that would help him stay strong in support of his active lifestyle. Morgan knows his way around bikes – mountain bikes, dirt bikes, motorcycles, you name it. “I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 9 years old,” said Morgan, arms covered in road rash as we speak. “I’ve been riding mountain bikes since I was 22. I actually just got back on my mountain bike recently. We rode 100 miles in 2 days in Sweetwater, Texas. I used to ride a lot in the desert. I’ve probably put in a couple thousand miles over the years near Terilingua. Hitting triple digits is a rush. It’s a different mindset out there. I’ve passed a lot of pitfalls along the way but we kept our minds sharp and shredded. It gets to about 110 degrees out there in the desert.”
The pitfalls Morgan has experienced atop two wheels could never have prepared him for what he experienced shortly after joining BodyBusiness though. After asking for help training, he was paired up with certified personal trainer Shandy Smith, and they set off to work.
“We had been training for about 6 to 8 months. One day I came in and we were doing some rowing. During the course of one of the exercises, I got winded. I’ve had asthma on and off for the course of my life, so I wasn’t too alarmed but Shandy suggested I go to the hospital.” Morgan’s life would never be the same from that day forward.
“I went to the hospital and the doctor said my lung was collapsing,” said Morgan. “They looked further with a camera. I had a bleb – a weak spot in my lung from cancer cells. They told me I had blown a hole in my lung from the rowing exercise. My lung wasn’t functioning properly because it was collapsing.” When pictures of Morgan’s muscle tissue revealed more than one bleb, he was told he would need expert care for his lungs. Morgan headed to Houston to meet with Dr. David Sugarbaker, Chief of the Division of General Thoracic Surgery and the Director of the Baylor College of Medicine Lung Institute at CHI St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
“When hope is in the equation, anything is possible.” – David Sugarbaker
“Dr. Sugarbaker was the leading surgeon in chemotherapy in Houston,” said Morgan. “They did some more probing. Not only was it in my right lung but also in the rear base near my colon. I set a date and went to Houston. They deflated my lung and put me on a breathing machine, then took my lung out. They chemo washed my lung and cavity. They then peeled it along the lung and cavity and put it back in. I had tubes everywhere. I woke up and I couldn’t talk. I saw the nurse near me. I was choking on my own saliva. So I started kicking. I managed to get my hands free and I gave her the finger. I had broken teeth I was clinching my jaw so hard. They finally noticed me and as they came to help, I passed out.” One thing you can never say about Grant Morgan – the man isn’t full of fire and passion for life… and has a unique way of showing it.
After being told his chances of survival were slim to none, Morgan doubled down even more. He speaks about defeating his illness and overcoming the odds as if he was Rocky Balboa – when everyone told him it was going to be tough, he might not make it, take it easy – it only inspired him even more. “I didn’t even know the details about the disease and the operation,” said Morgan. “I healed for four months and even worked out with Shandy a few times. I had 17 weeks of chemo. I was still coming to BodyBusiness and riding mountain bikes. Then I started to wither away. I had 3 different kinds of chemo in my veins.”
Morgan credits some great friends and a chance encounter with a Navy Seal who was also receiving treatment in the hospital as his animus to endure no matter what life was throwing at him. “I had to take some bags out of the hospital,” said Morgan of the Navy Seal. “He saw and tried to load up the bags with me. He was the inspiration to keep going.” Life decided it still had some blows to land on Morgan before the fight would be called though. Right before “the big one” Morgan had to put down his dog, as she had begun to suffer herself. “She was my baby,” said Morgan.
To hear Grant Morgan speak of what he went through – the surgeries, the pain, the loss – is to hear a man who has come to understand the frailty of life and the cruelty of fleeting health. He is also a man who spares no words when it comes to what he endured. “They pulled all the muscles part,” said Morgan. “Then they put me back together.”
Morgan was out of recovery early, again – to nobody’s surprise this time. He fought depression but got back to BodyBusiness within 3 months. He got a new puppy too, Dutch. “He is a very busy young man. I walk him everywhere. He was my therapy then.” After getting back in the gym, Morgan found that the illness and surgeries had sapped his strength once again. He couldn’t do a single push-up. One year later he can do 20 push-ups now. Still, life was trying to knock him down: this time a tad bit more literally.
“Once he kicked me in the head it was over.”
In a life full of memorable ups and downs, adventures and hardships, March 12, 2019 will always be a day Grant Morgan remembers. A case of mistaken identity led to Morgan being viciously beaten on the side of the highway. As he was driving down MoPac, two vehicles (one being the same model and color of his own truck and the other a black SUV), started swerving between lanes as the drivers yelled and gestured at each other. The black SUV exited the highway and Morgan, having to take the same exit, followed him off. When the driver saw Morgan’s white truck following behind him, he thought the man he was previously arguing with was now trying to escalate the situation further. The driver of the black SUV began yelling at Morgan and began chasing him through side streets despite Morgan’s insistence he had the wrong guy. When his truck’s tires blew out, he pulled on to the side of highway. The driver of the black SUV saw him from across Mopac, ran through the rush-hour traffic, glass bottle in hand and charged Morgan at full speed. After knocking him down, the unknown assailant began kicking Morgan on the ground then stole his cell phone and casually walked away. Morgan lay on the ground, beaten and bloody, his body once again limp with pain and he himself once again left asking – why me?
Grant Morgan isn’t the type of guy to stay on the canvas very long after life knocks him down though. He got back up and told himself never again. Nowadays you can find him training with Shandy and Mike Ormand, a specialist in self-defense and situational awareness at BodyBusiness, to ensure he’s prepared if he ever finds himself staring down an enraged, charging assailant again. “My shed was empty,” said Morgan of his metaphorical tools to defend himself. “I didn’t know how to diffuse the situation. Training with Mike and Shandy has given me a feeling of worth. I’m training in a different capacity to feel something in a physical capacity. Mike is incredible. You wouldn’t see anything until he is done with you. Shandy is gentle, thankfully. It helps with my mental focus. Honestly, I owe my life to Shandy. I might have been too far down the road if Shandy hadn’t caught it. When I get rich, I want to make him a happy man, because I owe it to him.”
When Grant’s parents told him he couldn’t get a horse as a child, he decided to get a motorcycle instead, sparking a life full of heart-pumping exploits. At the age of 6 he got his first pet snake – he now keeps over 25 as pets in a “snake-proofed room.” He tells stories of late-night treks through deep woods searching for slithering serpents to bag. He will look you in the eye and drop incredible quotes like “I can’t be too mad at the chemo though – mosquitoes don’t bite me as much anymore.” He will also tell you that he “can’t imagine where [he] will be in one year.” So when you see Mike and Shandy putting this man who has survived so many near-death experiences into a chokehold as you walk through the gym, don’t get nervous for him: chances are he’s going to find a way to slip out of it and keep going – that’s the only way he knows.