As we approach Cancer Awareness Month, it seemed fitting to reach out to Dr. Lucia Murphy, also known as “Doctor Murph,” to share her story on overcoming her “life speed bump”. Lucia has been a “health nut” for years: exercising, eating well, getting annual checkups and mammograms, making the lifestyle choices that are supposed to keep us insulated from terrible health issues. As Lucia was getting ready to run the Pittsburgh Marathon race in May 2016, “adjusting [her] girls” into a sports bra, she noticed a small bump near the bottom of her right armpit. Having had a clean mammogram just five months before and not having a family history of cancer, she took a doctor-friend’s advice and waited a couple of months to see if it would go away. Then on August 3, 2016 she got the nightmare call that you hope to never receive. “This is cancer.”
After a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, The Barshinger Cancer Center threw her directly into the fight as they started her on chemotherapy in October of 2016. Following a short break, Lucia battled through a total of 37 radiation treatments that started February of 2017. Lucia mentioned how long recovery takes when the human body goes through that much intense, relentless medicine. “I couldn’t even think about putting a sports bra on until 3 months after my last radiation treatment,” Lucia mentioned when referring to the lengthy recovery time.
Lucia stated several times how there were points where she wanted to give up, but thinking about her family, especially her three wonderful kids, kept her going back to each painful treatment looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. Lucia joined the YMCA’s CaRE (Cancer Rehabilitation Exercise) program to find those she could relate to and share the thoughts and feelings that she felt even those close to her maybe didn’t want to hear. Lucia specifically said, “I credit the CaRE program with my mental sanity.”
Lucia isn’t your average runner. She is a long distance runner who works hard at getting stronger, testing herself at half and full marathons, and with more to come. The CaRE program, now the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, not only helped Lucia get started on strength machines and relay the importance of continual exercise, but also created a community for Lucia to befriend people that were experiencing the same physical and emotional difficulties that follow chemo and radiation therapy. Lucia gratefully mentioned how she was, “not by [myself],” while going through all of this. Two instructors came right to mind when Lucia was raving about the program; Maria Waterfield and Valerie Petersheim.
To this day, Lucia is still an active member of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. She’s regained much of her strength and endurance back, as she has successfully completed the Baltimore Half-Marathon in October of 2017; just a year after she was officially diagnosed with cancer! Whether it was making a shirt for every chemo cycle, ringing bells after each radiation treatment, lifting weights, or researching alternative medicine, Lucia went into the ring face to face with a dark disease, and emerged victorious. She really brought things into perspective as we ended the interview with a tearful hug and her affirming, “family and friends are what really matter in life.”
Lucia will be a guest speaker at our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Luncheon on October 11 as part of Cancer Survivorship Month at the YMCA. Learn more at the events in October that will support cancer survivors at the YMCA.