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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Feb 3, 2010

2/3/2010 1:00:00 PM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Archive  

In addition to world class tennis player and Tennis Channel commentator, Corina Morariu can now add another title to her resume: author. 

 

Corina's new book, "Living Through the Racket – How I Survived Leukemia…and Rediscovered My Self," explores her harrowing battle with a merciless opponent, the cancer she was diagnosed with when she was a carefree 23-year-old on top of the world. 

 

At least she thought she was carefree. In her book, she writes not just about her illness, but about how it forced her to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about herself.

 

"For me to write a book, it wasn't possible to write about my illness and not write about my personal struggles," Corina shares with the Sweet Spot. "Because everything would tie back to that."

 

 

In bookstores Feb 15

Before her diagnosis in 2001, Corina was seemingly living the dream. She had a tight-knit family and a husband who loved her.  Sure, maybe her dad pushed her hard on the courts as a kid.  Maybe she met her husband in an unconventional way, his having coached her since she was 14.  But with a Wimbledon doubles title, a mixed title at the Australian, the No 1 doubles ranking and a top 30 ranking in singles, life was good.

 

And then cancer struck. And it struck hard, landing her in the hospital for weeks of treatment that was, in so many ways, worse than the cancer itself.  But her story doesn't end with her being released from the hospital. For Corina, it's just the beginning.

 

"I think a lot of people who have been sick can relate to how it pervades every aspect of your life. Physically, emotionally, mentally, personally." Her struggle forced her to look at her life in a whole new way. And for the first time she was really questioning what she was seeing.

 

She questioned her hard-driving father, who, after a loss at age ten, forced her to run until he felt she'd run enough.  And she questioned a coach/husband who, eleven years her senior, developed feelings for her when she was 15.  She writes lovingly about them both and certainly gives them all the credit in the world for their support during her fight, but it was her fight that now allowed her to put some of their early decisions under a microscope.

 

Most importantly, she puts herself under a microscope as a willing participant in taking a backseat to her life. She took on the role of perfect daughter. She played the part of dutiful wife.  But, because of leukemia, the script had changed. The need to please, for everything to be okay, suddenly didn't fit the character description. And this new Corina was raising holy hell. 

 

The woman whose very public struggle endeared her to millions was suddenly an enemy in her own home.

 

Her toughest decision, to get a divorce, ripped her family apart. Ultimately, forcing her family to get to know the real Corina would make their relationship stronger than ever. 

 

"I really feel the book was a cleansing experience, and I didn't necessarily feel that at the time I was writing it.  It was a huge challenge for me, and something that I hoped people could relate to and gain something from."  And that's what really motivated Corina to write it.  "When I was in the hospital, I read Lance Armstrong's book. That helped me. A lot. Someone can go through this and come out on the other side and they can be better and stronger because of this."  She also wanted to dispel the myth that getting sick is simply a physical thing. "I'm very partial to cancer survivors and people that have gone through that illness and feel like the aftermath and the emotional fallout is more difficult than the disease. I wanted to speak to that."

 

For all the fans who went through this with her, who care about her, how is Corina today?  "Happy," she smiles.  "I have a great relationship with my family, I have a great guy in my life who I just love to pieces and who's just a wonderful partner and person. And I have a job that I love. And I'm so grateful for everything that people have done to support me over the years.  It hasn't been an easy road for me in a lot of ways. But the predominant feeling is gratitude."

 

 

"Living Through the Racket," co-authored by Allen Rucker, will be in bookstores on Feb 15.

 

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Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.

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