Michelle Murphy, a resident of Wakefield, passed away in her home on May 23 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. She was 38.
Murphy’s family members described her as an outgoing girl with a bubbly personality, saying that she was exceptionally strong and positive, especially considering the hardship she faced throughout her life.
“She was such a strong girl, I don’t think anybody could have been like her because she always had a smile on her face,” said Carol Murphy, Michelle’s stepmother. “She always had a positive outlook and she was always there for her family and friends if they ever needed anything.”
“She would want to help you with whatever problems you had instead of her receiving help,” said Frank Murphy, Michelle’s father. “She cared so much about everybody.”
Michelle’s resolve and outlook on life is all the more impressive when you consider the adversity she faced.
Cystic fibrosis is an incurable inherited disease that causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract, resulting in chronic lung infections and serious digestive problems. People who suffer from cystic fibrosis must take multiple different medications and antibiotics throughout their lives in order to keep the disease at bay, and many people eventually require lung transplants as well.
This was the case with Michelle, who underwent a lung transplant procedure roughly 10 years ago. Family members point to this time as an example of the strength Michelle had.
“There was a fundraiser where we had all her family and friends over,” Mr. Murphy said. “And I think it was two or three days before that, she had her appendix out, it burst and she had her appendix out, and she walked in like nothing ever happened to her.”
Seven months later, Michelle participated in the U.S. Transplant Games.
“She did great,” Mrs. Murphy said. “Even if she got tired she’d rest for a minute and keep going.”
“She’s just a fighter,” Mr. Murphy said. “She fought everything and she’d keep going.”
Michelle’s spirit and personality stood in stark contrast to her diminutive appearance. She was 4-foot-9, and according to her father, only weighed about 70 pounds at the time of her death.
And yet despite this, very few people had quite the same presence in a room.
“When she walked in a room you’d know,” Mr. Murphy said. “She had a very loud voice.”
Mr. Murphy explained that Michelle was going deaf, which was the reason for her speaking loudly, but the effect was amplified further by her own personality and the energy she brought wherever she went.
“She was very excitable,” Mr. Murphy said. “Very happy to be around friends. She loved her friends and family.”
Born on Nov. 28, 1972, Michelle attended the Presentation of Mary Academy in Hudson, Mass. Although her disability prevented her from working for much of her adult life, Michelle had many hobbies and passions. Among them were outdoor activities such as skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing and waterskiing, along with more leisurely activities like going to the beach, walking her dogs and hanging out with her friends.
Michelle was also involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where she met her husband, Christopher Hendry, while he was working on fund raising. They married in 2003.
Michelle is survived by her father Frank and her stepmother Carol, both of Melrose, along with her mother Donna Yopp and her husband Michael of Pelham, N.H..
She is also survived by her brothers Ricky Murphy and his wife Jessica of Hudson, N.H. and Bob Ahearn of Woburn, and her sister Colleen Ahern of Melrose.
Michelle’s funeral was held on May 27 at in Wakefield. She was buried in the St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Stoneham.