Classes, friends, and cancer

By Boni Garber – Horizon Opinion Editor

In August, Alisa Murray was unpacking for college, rehearsing daily with Bel Canto for the homecoming concert and making new friends like most college freshmen.

That was before the phone call with a devastating diagnosis: Murray’s mother Amy had stage three breast cancer. In the aftermath of receiving such news, Murray emailed her sisters, Saralyn and Annali, for comfort.

“I always knew that cancer was really common, but I had never thought that it would affect me,” said Murray. “I remember thinking she can die anytime, and I wasn’t ready for that.”

This isn’t the first time cancer has affected the Murray family. During Murray’s junior and senior years of high school, her father Randy was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After several surgeries, Randy’s prognosis was good: The cancer was gone and hasn’t resurfaced since replique montre.

The news didn’t have much time to sink in for the Murrays, a family of five including two adopted cousins. Surgery took place within the first month, along with a double mastectomy in order to rid the cancer from the infected lymph nodes.

“It came as a complete surprise,” said Murray, who now has daily interactions with her mom via email, phone or Skype.

Fifteen hours away from home, Murray says that she copes through running and praying.

“Initially, after finding out about the cancer, I don’t remember being mad at God,” said Murray, “I just remembering wondering about if I could handle this, and then thinking that I would never be ready for my mom to die.”

Facing the concept and reality of death, especially far away from home, is scary, but Murray tries to stay positive.

“Just knowing that I can hop on a plane and be home in five hours if anything major happens really helps,” she said.

But, Murray says she still continues to fear the unknown.

“Mom is a person I can tell more things to than I can to my friends. She’s always been there for me, and I can’t imagine ever not needing her.”

Amy is still receiving chemotherapy, but at this time the cancer has relapsed. Murray says she’s still weak and needs to be careful about moving, cuts and scrapes or lifting heavy objects, but is recovering, albeit slowly, at home.

For Murray, the news of cancer has not stopped her participation in college activities. An active member in Bel Canto, Student Advisory Board and a Women’s Group, Murray seems impenetrable, but underneath she says she struggles. To her fellow classmates Murray gives this advice:

“Don’t be afraid to tell people how you are really feeling. Always find that group of friends that you can trust.”

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