Jim, esophageal cancer survivor
An avid mountain biker and skier who knew how “healthy” was supposed to feel, Jim Murphy went for an endoscopy when he began having trouble swallowing.
Jim was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He would need to undergo chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove the tumor from his esophagus. It would require taking two-thirds of his esophagus and a third of his stomach.
“Any time you get a diagnosis like this,” Murphy says, “you get a second opinion. One thing about City of Hope is that you’re dealing with a team of doctors. So I got my first, second and third opinions right there on the spot. My radiologist, my oncologist, my surgeon were all there to look over the original diagnosis.”
Despite the intense treatment, Jim was determined that his life would not change dramatically. “The only way to approach it, in my mind, was to do the things the doctors were saying and to remain positive.”
He tried to keep things as normal as possible. With his doctors’ approval, he rode his mountain bike and continued his ski patrol duties.
“I wanted to show those around me that cancer was not going to take me down. It was a disease, not a death sentence, and I was going to treat it as such. So I put everything I had into fighting it. Your body still functions even though you have cancer. I wasn’t going to let the treatment slow me down.”
Throughout his chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Murphy never missed a day of work. He bicycled to and from City of Hope and refused to take the elevator while undergoing treatment.
Now cancer-free for several years, Murphy credits City of Hope with giving him the best chance to fight his disease. “What really impressed me was that the research was right there at City of Hope. Not only do they get drugs faster. If they have something experimental it goes from the researcher right to the doctor and right to you. It’s the ultimate weapon – doctors reaching out for researchers, researchers reaching out for doctors. And the patient wins.”