Meet Jacob Morse

College sports fan shares a special connection to Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech

After finishing graduate school at Gonzaga, Jacob Morse was ready to start his new career when he was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at just 23 years old.

The shocking news came after months of unexplained weight loss, stomach issues and a strange cough. At a routine appointment, Jacob’s doctor noticed his heart was speeding at 140 beats per minute while he sat calmly in a chair. Jacob was immediately admitted to the hospital. Next came a CAT scan, which lit up like a Christmas tree, followed by a biopsy confirming the cancer diagnosis. By the time he started chemotherapy, Jacob had already lost 75 pounds.

Shortly after beginning treatment, Jacob moved to Denver to start his new job. “I was determined not to let cancer put a pause on my life,” said Jacob. “I could not have done it without the full support of my company, my friends and family, and my amazing girlfriend, who is now my wife!” Fortunately, Jacob received a clean scan after six months, just a few days after his 24th birthday.

A Special Connection

Thanks to ESPN’s “30 for 30” highlights of Jim Valvano running frantically on the court after winning the 1983 National Championship, Jacob knew of the V Foundation long before his cancer journey. Occasionally while receiving chemotherapy infusions, Jacob watched Jim’s inspirational ESPYS speech. One day, he realized a unique connection: Jim gave his speech on March 4, 1993—the day Jacob was born.

“As a cancer survivor and someone who cares intensely about college sports, when I hear the speech and think about the organization announced during that speech, I feel a deep connection,” says Jacob. “It’s the peak of the mountain where cancer and sports intersect. And throw in the fact Jimmy gave the speech on the day, maybe within the hour of my birth. How do I not connect to it?”

Advancements in Research Bring Longer Lives for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Patients

 “At the time of my diagnosis, research indicated nearly two-thirds of stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients were still alive five years after diagnosis. However, 20 years ago, this was not the case,” says Jacob. “The reason diagnoses like mine are no longer so bleak is due to research and advances in medicine that would not be possible without funding.”

Jacob fervently looks forward to college sports each year. Attending Notre Dame for undergrad studies and graduate school at Gonzaga made being a “Domer and a Zag” a huge part of his identity. Now, Jacob adds cancer survivor to that list.

While I didn’t choose the latter, I am extremely grateful that I am a survivor and I wholeheartedly believe that organizations like the V Foundation are the reason I am a survivor.

Jacob Morse


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