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Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni gets good news about his health



Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni got some great news from his doctors Tuesday - the chemotherapy appears to be beating his cancer.

"The tumor is shrinking. I really needed some positive news," Morroni said Wednesday. "This has really been rough. ... We left ecstatic that there is nothing but great news."

Morroni, 57, who was treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2008, found out late last year that his cancer had returned. Soon after, he began the first phase of intensive chemotherapy, which ended Tuesday. The second round was scheduled to begin Thursday (Feb. 23). Morroni will undergo further tests when that round is finished in a few weeks, but he said he's optimistic that the news will be good. 

"I know that the treatment is working," he said. "It's shrinking and we're full speed ahead for Phase II."

Morroni said he's been overwhelmed at the outpouring of support.

"I have so many cards ... and emails, there's no way I can get to everybody," he said.

Morroni, a former state Republican representative, was first elected to the County Commission in 2000 and was named chairman for 2012. When he was told his cancer had recurred, Morroni said he wanted to work while undergoing chemotherapy - last time, he missed only one meeting while going through six months of chemotherapy and five months of radiation. But this time, the intensive treatment has left him tired and drained, and he has missed the past couple of commission meetings. 

"This has been harder (than last time) emotionally, physically and mentally because I thought I had it beat," Morroni said. 

Morroni did try to keep up his normal pace, but ended up collapsing from dehydration during the annual banquet he holds to honor law enforcement and emergency medical and fire personnel. Morroni said he stayed on stage for an hour, then began feeling tired and got pains in his legs. He asked fellow Commissioner Ken Welch to take over for him and went to sit down. A few minutes later, he stood up and "I thought, 'Oh, oh, I'm going down.' ... We stood up and I took two steps and that's all I remember."

Jim Millican,  a captain with the Lealman Fire Department, was at a nearby table and caught him before he hit the ground. Morroni said when he woke up, all he could see were people gathered around him. John Peterson, a paramedic who works for Paramedics Plus, the private company that Pinellas pays to provide ambulance service, rode with him in the ambulance to Largo Medical Center. 

"I got to Largo Med, I was a dishrag," Morroni said. But, referring to Peterson, "I already know one guy who's getting an award next year. ... Everybody will remember that dinner for awhile."

Morroni said he's been overwhelmed at the outpouring of support for him. 

"I have so many cards ... and emails, there's no way I can get to everybody," he said.

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer







[Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:07pm]


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