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The one hundred honoree: Kate Murphy

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Kate Murphy

Mass General Giving

Kate Murphy spent the last 17 years of her life serving other patients and families as a gifted advocate, educator and communicator. Before her diagnosis of cancer and multiple sclerosis, she had a full career in early childhood and women’s services, including positions at Head Start and the YWCA. But it wasn’t until these illnesses forced her to leave this career that she found her life’s true calling.

Kate joined the Association of Cancer Online Resource a few months after it was founded, and began contributing scientifically accurate but patient-friendly content on urgent, user-driven topics that varied from news on the latest drugs to tips on managing symptoms.

In 1999, Kate helped to found the Colon Cancer Alliance based in Washington, DC, and in 2005 she helped establish the nonprofit Fight Colorectal Cancer, the leading nationwide colorectal cancer advocacy organization. She was its director of Research Communications until she succumbed to cancer in October 2012.

Kate brought patients and their loved ones knowledge as well as a strong, articulate voice that was heeded by clinicians and researchers alike. She served on many scientific committees that reviewed grant proposals, monitored patient safety and developed research concepts and priorities.

As a cancer patient herself, Kate’s drive to live her life to the fullest served as an example for the many patients for whom she advocated. From cross-country train trips with her husband to writing and publishing poetry, Kate once wrote, “Cancer has enriched my life. I look forward to each day with its special joys and new possibilities. I have learned to live completely and fully. I hate to leave this life behind now that I’ve found it.”

Kate’s niece, Lisa Russell, speaks for thousands of patients when she says, “My aunt Kate was my source of strength and encouragement when, in 1998, I was diagnosed and treated for lymphoma at Mass General. My aunt Kate will always be my hero.”