After battling cancer, Freeport’s Garrett King eager to get back on field
Sunday, February 28, 2021 | 4:08 PM
In one week, the Freeport boys lacrosse team begins practice, and junior Garrett King with be there ready to work.
“Lacrosse is so much fun for me,” the Yellowjackets multisport athlete said.
“It is a change of pace from football. There’s so much running, and it keeps me in great shape. I am really looking forward to getting going with the season with my teammates.”
It also is another building block in a return to normalcy — physically and mentally — for King since a testicular cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment process.
King has received better and better news on his recovery through test results since the end of 2020, and he recently rang the bell at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital celebrating the positive news.
“I’ve been getting my strength back, and I feel a ton better. I’ve been able to bounce back really fast,” said King, who concluded three months of chemotherapy in mid-December.
Garrett’s father, Shawn, couldn’t hide the excitement in his voice when talking about his son’s recovery.
“He’s a tough kid. He did as good as possible with his treatments,” Shawn King said.
“It was a big opportunity to go down to Children’s and ring the bell. We spent some time with the doctor at an appointment (the week of Feb. 10) and were told things were looking good. He had a good blood test, and everything was working its way normally throughout the process. As a parent, I probably will worry until I am dead, but it’s always great to hear good news. We are so happy for him and for the opportunities that lie ahead for him.”
Despite the covid-19 restrictions and limitation, Garrett King was having a good summer of workouts in preparation for his junior football season.
Then came the late-August diagnosis. Before surgery, King was able to play in Freeport’s scrimmage with Knoch. But his season was over before it started.
A second procedure inserted a chemotherapy port, and the process of treatment included stretches of several days in the hospital.
“Garrett maintained his body weight throughout treatment,” the elder King said. “Chemo kills good cells and bad, so he often felt that fatigue that comes with it. He did do a lot to try and keep his strength. We would walk many miles worth of laps around the hospital. Being healthy and strong beforehand really helped his body through the treatments.”
A good blood report in December led to his chemo port being removed right before Christmas.
Two weeks later, he was allowed to begin weight training and cardio work. King said couldn’t wait to regain his strength and conditioning, a process that continues as March begins.
“I was really fortunate to not have many side effects from the chemo treatments,” Garrett said.
King has been working out regularly, up to six days most weeks. Dan Snow, a family friend and supporter of Freeport athletics, presented Garrett a free membership to his gym, Body Revolution, in Freeport Borough.
Pickup basketball games have been a regular part of King’s routine.
As the Freeport football team compiled a 3-3 record and made the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs in a season filled with covid ups and downs, King attended as many of those games as possible.
When he was at Children’s for chemo treatment and couldn’t be at a game, he watched the live stream from his room.
“It was definitely weird to not be out there with my teammates and friends playing, but I tried to be as involved as possible,” King said. “I went to some games and kept a safe distance. I would always talk with the guys on FaceTime or text after every game. I was able to make the best of it, and I had so many people helping me.”
“King Strong” T-shirts, displays of support from friends, athletes and coaches from all Freeport teams and cheerleaders, as well as well wishes from opposing teams and coaches, lifted his spirits, King said.
“It’s been incredibly humbling,” he said.
“No matter who, what or where, people were constantly reaching out to me. Apollo-Ridge had a crown sticker on the back of their helmets and had shirts made. Derry made me a shirt. Knoch gifted me a football with all of the players’ signatures. I had coaches and players direct message me letting me know I was in their prayers. They were also praying for my family. It really means a lot to know how people in this (Freeport) community and others throughout the area really stand up for each other.”
King will have blood work and other tests every two months this year, and those are expected to become less and less frequent as time goes on.
The future also includes a return to the football field, and King said he’s counting down the days to when he can put on a helmet and shoulder pads and revel in those Friday night lights.
“We know we can do some big things next season,” King said. “We have a lot of talent coming back with the skills and tools to help us go far. Everyone is just so committed and excited. I am looking forward to being a big part of that.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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