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KKITM’s ‘Psycho Shanon’ discusses brain tumor

Posted 12:52pm on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013

Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will, but when Shanon Murphy brings it up in a phone interview, she’s talking about the incongruity about something that went very right for her back in 1999.

“My story doesn’t happen,” says Murphy, who produces the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Showwho has been with the show for 14 years -- she started as an intern when she was still in high school -- and is known affectionately as “Psycho Shanon.” “You don’t get your first job ever at the No. 1 station in the No. 5 [radio market] in the country. I can’t explain it. My last name is Murphy, and Murphy’s Law is not a good law. But as far as my job and being able to maintain it and form the relationships that I have with the show and with the listeners, it’s just surreal.”

During the past few years, however, many things have gone wrong. A beloved nephew died in a drowning accident a couple of years ago. Kraddick, a radio mentor whose voice Murphy has known practically all her life, died unexpectedly at age 53 on July 27 of this year. On Aug. 15, the day of a public memorial for Kraddick in Dallas and the night of the Kidd’s Kids concert to raise money for Kraddick’s charity for terminally and chronically ill children, Murphy learned that a close friend died after a long illness.

“It’s been a rough couple of years,” Murphy says. “It’s just kind of one thing after another.”

Then there was the news she got this month -- she has a tumor on her brain. It’s benign, but she will have to undergo surgery, and the surgery comes with many risks. She told Kidd Kraddick in the Morning’s national audience about it during Monday’s show -- here’s a clip of that.

When it comes to Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, Murphy is a recurring cast member -- she’s always in the studio, but she doesn’t appear on the air every day, like cast members Kellie Rasberry, Big Al Mack, Jose “J-Si” Chavez and Jenna Owens do. But during the memorial for Kraddick, it was obvious that listeners have a lot of affection for her, as she waded into the crowd at Dallas’ AT&T Plaza for hugs and pictures.

Since Monday’s show, Murphy has received thousands of messages of support and prayers via her Twitter and Facebook pages. This time, the support is directly for her, but she says fan support for the whole show has kept Kidd Kraddick in the Morning going.

“I think there’s a point where you have to take a step back, and when the person whose name is on the show is no longer with us, you have to decide, ‘What now?’,” Murphy says. “If we didn’t have the support for the listeners, and from the people who came to the memorial, and everybody who is so committed to us, we wouldn’t have a reason to get up at the butt-crack of dawn every day. So we’re very blessed to have the support from the people in Dallas, and all over the place.”

Murphy woke up Friday, Oct. 18, with swelling on the left side of her face. She had numbness on the left side of her body. She’d been feeling bad all week, but she thought it was sinus-related. But as her face remained swollen, she decided to go her doctor with a list of her symptoms. He scheduled an MRI for the next day.

On Oct. 23, the show held Kidd’s Kids Day -- its annual drive to raise money to take the Kidd’s Kids and their families on a trip to Disney World in Florida. While listeners were calling in with donations, Murphy received a phone call from her doctor telling her that there was a mass on her brain that should not have been there, and that a neurosurgeon would be in touch. The neurosurgeon set up an appointment for another MRI, and she met with another neurosurgeon. Surgery was originally scheduled for Oct. 30, but has been postponed because Murphy has a form of nonbacterial meningitis that has caused too much swelling for the surgery to take place.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in for me, really,” Murphy says. “It’s a little surreal. I’ve always had migraines, and I’ve never handled stress well. I’ve always been one to throw up when I get nervous. I’d had MRIs and CAT scans and all that stuff before. And I guess this thing on my brain is something that I was born with, and it was slow-growing enough that it looked like spinal fluid in all my past X-rays.”

Murphy is now aiming for Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, to have the surgery. That’s two days after the Kidd’s Kids trip, which takes place Nov. 21-25. Murphy hopes to be able to go, but her health issues are putting travel plans in doubt.

“There’s been so much information going in my head and trying to make sense of everything, it’s been kind of a job in itself,” Murphy says. “I think the [doctors’] main concern is the dizziness and the feeling like I’m going to pass out being worse doing the stuff with the kids at Disney World. Like riding the Dumbo ride and simple things like that. That’s their primary concern, but I don’t think there’s any eminent danger.”

For the KKITM cast, the Kidd’s Kids trip is more than just travel. The cast members get to know the kids and their families -- 50 families are going this year -- and often bond with the children, to the point where cast members have photos of certain Kidd’s Kids at their mic stations in the show’s Las Colinas studios. Murphy says that has helped her keep her own problems in perspective.

“I do realize that I’m very lucky that it’s a benign tumor,” she says. “If it was anywhere else in my head, we could probably just leave it. It just picked a bad spot. But I’m starting to have symptoms and we have to get rid of it.”

By coincidence, Murphy had just visited a Kidd’s Kids family who found out in an unexpected way that their daughter needed special treatment. Murphy had already canceled one follow-up interview with a Kidd’s Kid because she wasn’t feeling well, but the next morning she managed to drive to Waxahachie to visit the family of Penny, a little girl who has leukemia.

“She was being treated for strep throat, and so her fever wouldn’t break,” Murphy says. “That night, her parents took her to the doctor, and she had to have chemo. It’s kind of strange that two days before that, I thought I was having a sinus infection, and it turned out that there’s more to it than that.”

With surgery nearly a month away, Murphy says she has yet to really feel pre-surgery anxiety -- she’s had so many doctors’ appointments that there hasn’t been time for that. But she’s looking at a two-hour surgery followed by two days in intensive care, then a few more days in the hospital and anywhere from two to four weeks off the air. And she’s not thinking too much about the risks.

Murphy says that she had no hesitation in talking about her health problems on the air. That’s the way Kraddick would have wanted it, she says.

“He was one of the few people in radio that I know of that believed in sheer honesty,” she says. “It’s so easy for radio people to fake things ... and he was so anti-that stuff. If it’s happening and it could somehow spark some kind of connection with the listeners, then it’s my job that I share it. I thought of it as my way of asking God for a little extra support, and I think that the listeners really embraced that.”

Murphy has joked on her Facebook page that she plans to name the tumor, to give it a little less strength. One name that’s out if Kelly Clarkson, because her car is already named Kelly Clarkson and Kelly Clarkson would not have people digging in her brain. Listeners have responded with many other suggestions.

“I’ve gotten some Ryan Seacrest mentions, just because Kidd was always so jealous of him, I should call the tumor Ryan Seacrest,” she says with a laugh. “But I’m gonna give myself some time to think on it.”

After we talked Tuesday afternoon, Murphy put up a post on her Facebook page. Here’s an excerpt:

“I'm down for the count for the rest of the week. I'm not improving like I should be, so I've got strict orders to be a lazy bum.

P.S. I'm not good at being a lazy bum. At all. I got seriously upset when I talked to the doctor and was told to stay home for the rest of the week. My face swelled up seriously weird. I freaked out, but I'm ok. Thank God for Benadryl.

This whole mess hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm counting on you guys to keep up the pep talks. They say you find out who truly cares when you're a blubbering mess curled up in the fetal position in the corner over there. Not in those exact words, but you know what I'm saying. That's me. And while I'm seriously disappointed in some I thought I could count on for anything, I'm lifted up by the rest of you. Sharing your stories and sending just a simple Emoji message means so much to me. I am genuinely so thankful for your support.

I will pay it forward when I get through this. You have my word.”

For updates on Murphy, follow her on Twitter or Facebook. She also has a blog. And despite being tired, she has been very open with local media. Here’s what she had to say to the Dallas Observer. And here are some TV clips.

Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

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