Cancer patient shares a unique gift with doctors helping in his fight

Posted at 11:13 AM, Oct 13, 2023

Despite what he's been through, Lawrence Murphy is still finding a way to make the best of his talents for himself and others.

"I was diagnosed with stage III clear cell carcinoma, a kidney cancer. I had a tumor attached to my right kidney that was equal in size to my kidney," said Murphy, who everyone knows as Murf.

Six years ago, after that diagnosis and life-saving surgery, Murf began to sketch his procedures.

"It felt good for me to get the experience out of my head and onto the surface, which was the lab coat. And the response was amusing, overwhelming," he said.

For that first doctor, and now five that have followed in helping treat him, Murf has been creating custom lab coats.

On Thursday, he presented his sixth coat to Froedtert Hospital's Dr. Lindsay Puckett, a radiation oncologist.

"I'm honored. It's definitely one of the more unique things I've ever been honored to receive. And it jives too because I know who he is," said Puckett.

Each coat colorfully depicts the doctor's background, a good helping of Murf's silliness, and the treatment plans they prescribed.

"I understand you're board certified, but when we met, I wasn't sure which board it was. On the sleeve there's a couple of questions — was it skateboard certified, or surfboard certified," Murf said to Puckett at the presentation ceremony.

"As a lung radiation oncologist, it's just so cool. Because this is what I do," said Puckett, pointing to Murf's radiation plan he drew on the coat.

Murf, it turns out, was giving to oncologists before he knew he'd need them. He spent his career as an industrial designer at GE Healthcare.

"And since I retired I've been scanned by every piece of equipment I ever touched. It's full circle for sure," he said.

Today, Murf is still battling cancer. But he's been told by doctors they're optimistic about upcoming test results.

"Oh my God, it's life-changing. What they do is life-changing, life-preserving, and I can't thank them enough," he said.

Murf is also still creating and inspiring, both as a teacher at the Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design and for the healthcare specialists he's met since his diagnosis.

"I keep telling the folks here, at the Medical College of Froedtert, the cancer center, if you keep me alive, I'll keep drawing," he said.