Marie MurrayOutrunning the Odds of Her Cancer Diagnosis

In 2004 at the age of 43, Marie Murray was hitting her running stride when she found lumps throughout her body and was diagnosed with stage IV lobular breast cancer. Prescribing an every-other-week chemo regimen for eight treatments, doctors gave Marie fewer than three years to live.

“My daughter was three and my twins were 15 and I just said ‘Nope, my kids need me. I’m not going with that,’” she says. 

While undergoing treatment, Marie envisioned the chemo entering her body like Pac Man to eat the cancer cells. Surgeons removed the cancerous tumors, and she had a bone scan every three months for a year. After treatment, Marie joined the Huntsman Hometown Heroes, a running and cycling program, and rallied with other patients and supporters to raise funds for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“This team means so much,” Marie says. “It means support, strength, fun, and friendship. It’s really a permanent and a huge part of my life.”

Five years later, Marie heard the glorious words “No Evidence of Disease.” In 2011, she qualified for her first Boston Marathon. Marie kept running relays, road races, marathons, and half marathons. It was at a half marathon in 2014 that she realized her stomach issues were not just racing woes. She sought medical attention, was referred to a gastroenterologist, and had a colonoscopy. Knowing Marie’s history of cancer, the doctor took a biopsy of an inflamed section. The news: her breast cancer was back—and had spread to her colon.  

For treatment, Marie headed right away to the place for which she raised funds: Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“I love everything about it up there,” she says. “I feel so confident. I’ve been lucky to have these 10 years. My prognosis is a year-and-a-half to two years this time, but my doctor said, ‘We know what you did last time. Those are just numbers, and you are the perfect example of not listening to the numbers.’”

Although Marie’s cancer may never go away, it won’t stop her from staying active and it will never stop her from raising funds for cancer research. Her husband carries the torch and runs in her honor when she isn’t able. Her children have supported with fundraisers and donations. During 18 sessions of chemotherapy, Marie got up every morning, put on her beanie and running shoes, and hit the trail with her dog and her friends.

Her strongest advice to others with cancer? Stay positive as much as possible.

“We don’t have control over it, but we can try not to let our mind go to bad places,” she says. “I try to follow my own advice. My kids give me hope—just seeing my kids every day, seeing my husband happy. I am very, very grateful.”

Although she couldn’t run with the Huntsman Hometown Heroes team each week as they trained for 2015 events, her teammates brought the run to her. 

“We used to joke about having a water stop at my house or stopping for pancakes,” she says. “But one week, I came outside and saw all these people in my yard. Then I noticed they are all in running clothes and I saw Coach Elfi, and I knew.”

The team had included her home on the training route, taping up a giant poster that had her name, their signatures, and a big pink heart with blue glitter.

“I was left speechless. I am so incredibly touched. I have the poster up, and I look at it every day, and I just think ‘This. I can draw strength and power from this.’”

Marie was surprised to learn her total fundraising since 2005 exceeds $54,000. 

“Maybe that money has come around to help me,” she says. “Even if it didn’t, just think of all the people it has helped.”

Marie's Grateful Patient Profile Summary
Name: Marie Murray
Funds Raised:
$54,044.80 since 2005
Program:
Huntsman Hometown Heroes endurance events
Started Running: In her late 30s to keep up with her dog, Zeke
First Race: At age 43 when she joined Huntsman Hometown Heroes

Visit www.huntsmanhometownheroes.org to start your own grateful campaign.