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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 14, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 17May00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS Mother's Struggle Remembered
San Jose CA Mercury News 14May00 P2
By Elise Banducci: Mercury News

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- Carolyn McMurrin, 57, lost her seven-year battle to cancer on May 7, after courageously accepting the drug Herceptin to battle metastatic breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in 1998 after Mrs. McMurrin began treatment. Dr. Juliet M. Kral, McMurrin's oncologist, believes the drug extended her life as well as helping many other women. "She was a pioneer in getting on Herceptin trial before it was approved," said Dr. Kral. "Now millions of women around the world are benefiting from the research generated with this new drug."

McMurrin was a fighter who throughout her trials showed that she was a very human hero. "My mom always looked for solutions," said daughter Aleida Wakefield, 36. "A legacy we have from her is that we are strong children. We know that we can make it through anything."

"She fought till there was just nothing left," said son Donald Laucirica. "I've been around a lot of soldiers," said Laucirica, a company commander in the Army National Guard,......but she outdistanced all of us. I haven't seen a better example of courage, bravery or persistence."

Carolyn McMurrin was initially diagnosed in 1992 and was told she had 18 months to live in 1996. Numerous surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy allowed her to be around long enough to see her family through several milestones. Her daughter, Heather Durrans, completed a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and married with her mother helping to plan the wedding.

She saw her son leave for Bosnia with the military and sent him care packages to distribute to Bosnian school children. She welcomed several grandchildren into the world and encouraged her youngest daughter, Megan McMurrin, to leave for an 18-month mission for the Mormon church to Germany. "She never wanted to hold me back from doing the things I wanted to do," said Megan McMurrin, who was able to return from Germany for her mother's funeral.

Between cancer treatments, Carolyn earned her California teaching certificate, taught elementary and junior high school. She was an avid quilter and an active volunteer in her church. She drew support for her constant battle by actively attending her breast cancer support group, and from her faith and devotion to the Mormon church. Last year she was featured in a KGO channel 7 special on breast cancer called "Fighting Back." In that program Mrs. McMurrin stated, "I'm going to be a survivor."

Carolyn was the eldest daughter of a North Carolina farming family. At twenty-seven she had four children to raise alone. "There were lots of times when I was taking violin lessons and dance lessons and piano lessons, and my mother would never buy something for herself," Said Durrans, 29.

"She knew us well enough that all the gifts that she ever gave us were very personal," Durrans said. "Every birthday, we had our own special cake." In 1976, Carolyn married Daryl McMurrin. The couple, who had two children of their own, moved to San Jose in late 1986.

Elaine Dornig, executive director of the Bay Area Breast Cancer Network said, "As I think about Carolyn, I think of a gentle spirit, a woman with a quiet courage and a concern for other women in her support group." Carolyn requested that at her funeral that there be two pews near the front of the church left empty in honor of other breast cancer sufferers who had died or whose illness kept them from attending."

A week before Mother's Day, Mrs. McMurrin's children lay by her side throughout the night as she drew her last breaths. "Her final gift was giving us those last minutes to share with her and with each other."


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