John's Story

As posted by John on The Leukemia Lymphoma Society Website in 2001.

On a hot August evening in 2000 I had just finished up my favorite past time, a challenging round of golf. Little did I know that I was about to face the challenge of my life.

At the end of the round I began to feel feverish. At first I thought the heat was getting to me. But as I drove home the symptoms got worse and I began to have trouble breathing. After a call to  my wife, we decided that I should go to the emergency room where I was initally diagnosed with pneumonia. No big deal. I thought they'll put me in the hopital, give me some antibiotics, and I will get well and be back on the links in no time.

That optimism changed at 11:30pm when the doctor entered my room with the blood test results. I knew it was serious when he asked my wife to take a seat. He was very direct, " Your white blood cell count has skyrocketed." He said, "It appears you may have some form of Leukemia." Shocked and scared I asked, "is this a death sentence?"

After I spent five days in the hospital fighting the pneumonia and undergoing tests, it was confirmed that I had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). The doctors said the likelihood of a 34 year old like me getting CLL was a fraction of one percent, which is about the same odds as winning the lottery. That did not make me feel very lucky.

Five months later on January 14 (our 35th birthday), my twin brother Jim announced he had signed up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program to run the San Diego Marathon in my honor. I thought he was crazy. He had not run more than three miles since high school football.  But he attacked the training and the fundraising the same way that I attacked the disease, head-on with one hundred percent determination.

In March of 2001, after six months of chemotherapy and over 4.000 miles of traveling back and forth to the University of Michigan Medical Center, I went into remission. Technically, it was a good partial remission because my spleen was still swollen. Nevertheless, I was glad to be done with the treatment. Although I never got sick, I was exhausted after each treatment week.

That June, I was in San Diego with family to cheer on Jim, our cousin Kathleen, and a friend of ours named Mary. I was so proud when they finished in about four hours ( not bad for beginners). More importantly, I was proud of what they accomplished for the cause. Together they raised over $22,000 and Jim was the number one fundraiser in the Michigan Chapter. As a patient, I could not be more thankful for their efforts and the efforts of all Team in Training participants.

By, John Bernard Murphy

CLL Patient

Today, The Murphy Family continues to fight for the cause in John's memory through the John B. Murphy Memorial Golf Classic.