WEDU Arts Plus

S9 E22 | CLIP

922: Cal Morris

Tarpon Springs Violinist Caleb Morris survived a grueling battle with a rare form of blood cancer thanks to the support of his family and his love for music.

AIRED: November 19, 2020 | 0:05:40

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon and this is "WEDU Arts Plus".

Violinist Cal Morris is a familiar performer,

along Tarpon Springs famed Sponge Docks.

Diagnosed with cancer at age 31,

Cal turn to his family and music

in his battle to survive.

- Am I gonna to make it or not?

When you're looking at death

in it's face and you're so scared


- And the way that hours become so precious.

I was like, I don't care if they're horrible hours,

I just want hours.

- Cancer it changes you in a way that I think

a lot of people don't get or can't even understand.

(soft instrumental music)

The world to me just, is music.

At 13, I got interested in the violin,

it came naturally

and I feel like I just so quickly fell in love with it

and I'm not great with words and just communication,

but music is just how I express myself.

It was literally about a month of that,

on and off nauseousness

and after more testing,

We started coming back with,

it looks like it could be a blood cancer,

that was huge blow,

it was something we never expected.

- Cancer is absolute war.


- I can't even go there,

I won't let that happen,

I gotta be there for them.

When I immediately started doing chemotherapy,

I responded really, really well,

but they were still like,

to fix the real problem

we really think you need to do a transplant.

- And someone who has a potentially terminal diagnosis,

it's that one shot.

- It made me feel honestly so grateful to be able to

have the opportunity to give him a prosperous life

with his family and his kids.

- The transplant, that was way, way harder

than I could ever imagine.

- Somebody so strong

and just rolled up into this bald, hairless,

gray human being,

it was so sad to watch him disintegrate like that.

- Subsequently he had additional complications

associated with the transplant

that were not run of the mill complications.

- The pain was so bad, I didn't know

how I was gonna get through the next 10 minutes

and much less an hour or day


- Is he dying right now?

If he is, what would I regret not doing?

And I was like, we need the kids here,

we need to get to be together.

- I didn't pick my violin up

for like two months I was like, I couldn't,

but I would hear this song, just so much music in my head.

I just sat down at my keyboard for the first time

and just wrote this whole song,

I feel like there's so much that's gonna come out

and already has, from this journey.

Really one of the best days of my life,

being able to hug their little...

Feel their little arms just wrapped around me

and wrap my arms around them

and be back together.

- Caleb had made an announcement

that he was going back to the docks

and we dropped everything

and we were like,

this is something we're absolutely not gonna miss.

- But just to go back after that,

coming that close to not making it

and there was hundreds of people there

and so to get to that day

and just see so much love and so much support put out

and it was...

It's hard to describe with words.

- That's like everything,

I mean that's the reason

that people undergo this horrible experience of transplant

and the complications that occur post-transplant,

it's to live their lives again.

- I really got that miracle

that so many people hope for and pray for

and long for.

- For more information,