In sickness and in health

First Posted: 3/26/2015

LIMA — If someone had told John Murray six months ago he would love his wife more now than he has for the past 54 years, he wouldn’t have believed him.

“Having come through this together has actually brought us closer together,” John Murray said. “I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.”

John Murray and his wife, Greta, each in their 70s and married 54 years, were diagnosed with serious medical conditions within four days of each other. In October 2014, John Murray found out he had a benign brain tumor, and Greta Murray was diagnosed with cancer.

“It was a real double whammy,” John Murray said.

The couple, originally from Scotland, has lived in Lima for about four years. Their experience brought them closer together and taught them the value of their own mortality and each other’s.

“I thought he was always going to be there, and I was always going to be there with him,” Greta Murray said. “I realized that could not have happened.”

Now, Greta Murray is cancer free and John Murray’s tumor has shrunk. Back in the fall, they were both undergoing procedures and radiation treatment for their issues.

John Murray is thankful because he had Gamma Knife treatment for his tumor, which sends radiation directly to the tumor to shrink it. It is less invasive than surgery and requires only about a day of recovery time.

The short recovery time was great for the Murrays, as John Murray was able to be there for Greta Murray as she went through three surgeries and then radiation.

“I became the caregiver,” John Murray said. “I was able to do that because this tumor was behind me. I don’t know what we’d have done otherwise.”

Greta Murray said she would have managed without her husband’s help, but she “never doubted he would be there for me. … He’s always been there for me.”

During their journey with their medical conditions, the Murrays had “amazing doctors” who trusted them and listened to their individual needs.

Though they were both treated in Cleveland, the important part of the story to the Murrays is how it began.

“The whole story hinges on how it started here in Lima,” Greta Murray said. “It can be helpful to a lot of people.”

What can be helpful, Greta Murray said, is the knowledge of different options available for medical procedures, such as the gamma knife treatment her husband received in Cleveland.

“[Some] people are not as fortunate in the city of Lima as I have been,” she said. “[Gamma Knife treatment] is really an amazing thing.”

John Murray’s treatment and quick recovery wouldn’t have been possible without Dr. David Neidhardt, a family practitioner in Lima who referred him to the Cleveland Clinic, Greta Murray said.

“We’ve spent most of our lives overseas where they don’t have the medical facilities that we have, even in a small town,” Greta Murray said. “Never in my wildest, wildest imagination could I have dreamt they could do something like that without being invasive in your brain.”

St. Rita’s Medical Center doesn’t offer Gamma Knife treatment, though its partners in Cincinnati do, according to an email from a St. Rita’s representative.

Lima Memorial Health System doesn’t offer the treatment either, said a system representative.

The Murrays call their realization that they wouldn’t live forever a “wake-up call,” and a positive side effect of the whole ordeal.

“We’re very sure of ourselves and each other,” John Murray said. “I got a kick in the pants that said you know, you might not hang around as long.”

After 54 years of marriage, the Murrays were “so in tune with each other.”

“We were so in love with each other,” John Murray said. But, going through the past few months “has actually given us more strength.”

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