NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.
Tracy Murphy has always been athletic—as a Junior Olympian softball player, a softball coach and now, an umpire. The 47-year-old knows how to step up to any challenge and give it her all. Murphy’s hard-charging attitude also served her well when she faced the toughest opponent of her life: late stage lung cancer.
Survivor Tracy Murphy now advocates for others facing life-threatening cancer.
Defying Her Prognosis “Eight years ago, I was given a 5 percent chance of living five years,” recalled Murphy, the mother of two children. “What’s interesting is that my mom was diagnosed with the exact same cancer several years earlier and given an even worse prognosis. “She was treated at Highland Park Hospital and was with us for 14 more years after her diagnosis before she passed away. I wanted to beat the odds, just like her.”
Seeking out NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center Thoracic Oncologist Thomas Hensing, MD, Murphy began a three-month regimen of a powerful combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment plan was grueling, but it worked wonders. Her cancer went into remission and has not returned since.
“NorthShore’s multidisciplinary, team-based approach enables us to offer the latest diagnostic capabilities and treatment options to patients with lung cancer,” explained Dr. Hensing, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “Tracy did remarkably well and has remained cancer-free since completing her treatment.” Her resilience, surrounded by Kellogg Cancer Center’s coordinated team, got her through a challenging diagnosis and complicated care plan.”
Dr. Hensing added that since Murphy’s care in 2009, NorthShore continues to expand its leading-edge expertise, including offering the latest molecular diagnostic capabilities to determine what therapies work best for individual patients and beginning treatment as quickly as possible.
Switch Hitting: From Patient to Activist “I knew I was in excellent hands and could fight this!” exclaimed a triumphant Murphy, who has become an activist, raising funds for lung cancer research. “As a kid playing softball, my dad would always say, ‘Make the play. Cry later,’ especially during a tough inning. His advice—along with the care I received from the doctors, nurses and support staff at NorthShore—helped me recover.”
Her recovery also has led to love, with her now-husband proposing to her at the finish line of the NorthShore-sponsored LUNGevity Breathe Deep North Shore Walk and Run in 2016. “We married four months later, and I prove every day that there’s life and love after cancer.”