Child Cancer Survivor Creates Organization to Help Others

As part of Make a Difference Week, Steve Adubato sits down with Jaclyn Murphy, the inspiration behind the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, and her father, Denis Murphy, to explain how Jaclyn beat a deadly childhood cancer more than 12 years ago, and how that life-changing experience led them to start an organization that helps other children dealing with the disease.

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"We are pleased to welcome Dennis Murphy, founder of Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and the Jaclyn Murphy who is the inspiration for Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. It is an honor to have both of you. Thank you. Thank you for having us. Pleasure to be here. The Friends of Jaclyn foundation is? It's a non profit organization. What we do is we pair kids battling cancers and diseases and we pair them up with college sports teams or high school sports teams and they act as older brothers and sisters and it's not a one season kind of a deal. It's a lifetime experience. My team was Northwestern University out in Chicago and I have friends all around the country and I'm still really good close friends with them. I actually... this past Summer, I was actually invited to one of my friend's weddings which was really weird but fun to go to. So, you turned 22 last fall? Yes. Yeah. In March of 2004, your world changed a lot? Yes. Jaclyn was 9. I have another daughter Taryn, who was 7 and we got the call from the doctor. She was playing Lacrosse up in the local gym. Her gate went. We rushed her to the hospital at Vassar and we were there for a week. Misdiagnosed all different types of things. And finally, my wife is a high school business teacher, one of her students said, "CAT Scan, CAT Scan, we got the CAT Scan," and they found the mass the size of a golf ball in her fourth ventricle. We immediately went to Westchester Medical. Had surgery within 24 hours to remove the Malignant tumor and then down here at Memorial Sloan Kettering for protocol which called for 30 straight days of radiation and then 8 cycles of chemotherapy. 3 types of chemotherapies. And while we were down here, I get the call from her coach... Her Lacrosse coach Matt Cameron who says, "Where's Jaclyn?" and I explained to him she came down with a malignant brain tumor and he reached out to some friends in Chicago and they started this relationship text messaging. While we were at the 9th floor of Memorial Sloan Kettering which is the saddest place on the planet. That's where the doctors and the nurses and the caregivers are helping these children, but the beast is there 24/7, 365 taking these kids' lives. And I'm sitting there one day on the 9th floor and I'm watching Jaclyn talk to this other girl from Poland and she's oblivious to where she is because she's text messaging the lacrosse girls back..."