Mary-Jo Murphy, an anal cancer survivor, has made it her personal mission to focus attention on the disease, support those fighting it, and help erase the stigma often associated with it. She is also working to create a new narrative surrounding human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the predominant cause of anal cancer.
A registered nurse and health and diabetes educator, Mary-Jo works closely with the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, which funds cutting-edge anal cancer research, prevention and patient assistance. Mary-Jo speaks with each newly diagnosed patient that contacts the foundation. She provides them with support in dealing with the emotional, psychological and physical aspects of the disease.
Although much less common than breast cancer, more women are diagnosed with the disease and die from it than men. If detected at an early stage, anal cancer is treatable. However, because it is often asymptomatic, more than half of cases are not diagnosed until a late stage. In 2014, as the foundation’s representative, Mary-Jo participated in a symposium about the President’s Cancer Panel report on the HPV vaccine at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research. The panel’s report urged the accelerated uptake of the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer.
Mary-Jo also serves as the foundation’s patient survivor representative on the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)-Farrah Fawcett Foundation HPV translational research team, led by Ellis Reinherz, MD, chief of the Laboratory of Immunobiology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Robert Haddad, MD, chief of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Story told by Jordan Rich of The Jordan Rich Show on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. Visit www.theonehundred.org to learn more and meet the rest of our honorees.