DANVILLE (WCIA) — Every step has a purpose, every walk on the track means a little more progress for Marcus Forrest.
“It’s a major part of me getting back to where I’m going but coming out here, it inspires me to continue on,” Forrest said.
The Danville football coach is finding a new normal, with his sights set on a return to the field this fall.
And it all starts with 2-to-3 mile walks, multiple times per week.
“Every time I get a chance to get up and move about, I can think about when I was in the hospital and I’m laying there and I’ve got to depend on someone else to come help me get up,” said Forrest.
It’s been less than nine months since doctors diagnosed him with congestive heart failure.
The former Division I football player and nine year Navy veteran was in need of a new heart.
“To go from you thinking you’re in perfectly great health, you know you don’t smoke, don’t drink, you eat well, everything that you’re supposed to be doing, you’re doing,” he said. “Then all of a sudden things hit you like you just ran into a MAC truck.”
Forrest could barely get out of bed in the morning before he was out of breath. The 46-year old’s heart was functioning at just five percent at Christmas. Doctors told Forrest he had between two weeks and four months to live if he didn’t get a transplant.
“We always have a saying that Marcus and I have is, we pray it every day for God to use us for His glory at our expense,” Marcus’ wife Tabatha said. “We didn’t think it was going to be this, but nevertheless we pray it and that’s what we have done.”
Their prayers were answered in February when doctors found a matching heart. A short time later the father of four was on his way to Northwestern Medical for surgery. His body accepted the new organ and his road to recovery started when he woke up on Super Bowl Sunday.
“I’m thankful that I was able to get a heart so quickly,” Marcus said. “Everything works together for something good and one thing about it, I’ve seen how, me, my wife, my kids, it’s brought our family closer, it’s brought our community closer.”
And it’s that support the Forrest’s are so thankful for. Multiple fundraisers have eased the burden of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Marcus takes 30 pills per day and has a lifetime of checkups in his future.
“You just can’t help but to get emotional when you think about how much love, because sometimes you don’t know how much love you have from your friends, family and people that you don’t even know,” Tabatha said.
For now, the focus remains on recovery. And getting back to the sidelines this fall.
“He’s already talking about the summer, he’s ready to get back to normal and we’re all a little bit more cautious than he seems to be but that’s good that we’re having those conversations and we’re happy to be having them with him,” Danville athletic director Mark Bacys said.
“I can do exactly what I was doing the last time I was on the sideline and not only just do it but be able to do it better,” Marcus added. “So I’m just pushing and fighting and taking it step by step so I can.”