An Ingersoll family with strong ties to the community is receiving immense support from family and friends in the face of unbelievable tragedy.
Scott Murray says in the span of just a few weeks, his family found out their youngest son was suffering from Leukemia and then they tragically lost his wife.
Murray says the beginning of this nightmare scenario came on Oct. 9th when they received a call from their doctor advising them to take four-year-old Josiah to the hospital because of abnormal test results.
After further procedures throughout the day and night, Murray says doctors delivered the devastating news.
“They came back in the morning and said, ‘Your son has Leukemia’.”
“That, in itself, was earth-shattering to us,” says the youth pastor and the head coach of the Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute football team.
Joey, as he’s affectionately known to friends and family, immediately began treatment to fight the cancer and spent a couple of weeks in hospital.
During that time, Murray and his wife Doretta channelled their energy into supporting Joey and their two other sons Riley and TJ, but the stress took a toll.
Murray says his wife suffered what doctors have called a stress seizure and was hospitalized. She suffered a number of medical setbacks and passed away on Nov. 5th.
She was just 31-years-old.
“We’ve been processing the last two weeks now and at the same time Josiah is still having treatment every Friday,” Murray says.
Murray says they’ve been left with many questions about how this could have happened to them, but they’re relying on their faith to get them through.
“We’re kind of at the place where the whys and the hows and the whats aren’t going to change anything. So we’ve just kind of decided that we’re going to standby faith, that’s the way we’ve always lived our lives,” Murray says.
“If faith can’t get you through the tough times it’s not really worth much anyway because it’s really easy to have faith when things are good because there’s no need for it. It really becomes vital to really stay with your faith in God when the world completely flips upside down.”
Friends, family and the community in general are also stepping up in a big way to help the Murray family deal with its loss and the challenges that lay ahead.
Ingersoll has latched on to the family’s #JoeyStrong campaign that features orange bracelets designed by Murray and his wife Doretta and t-shirts created by Murray’s brother.
Even the school where the Murray children attend classes is doing its part.
Harrisfield Public School has launched the Going Hairless at Harrisfield campaign. A number of people have volunteered to have their names put on buckets in the school office where members of the public can toss in donations.
Whichever volunteer’s bucket has the most money come next Wednesday will have their head shaved during an assembly on Thursday.
Murray says that date is especially meaningful for his family as it would have been Doretta’s 32nd birthday.
“They wanted to know if they could honour (Doretta) by doing it on her birthday,” Murray says. “It’s such a heartfelt thing and we love our school community so much so it just fits really well.”
TD Bank is also collecting donations for the Murray Family Trust, account number 503-6356871. Contributions can be made at any TD Bank with cheques made payable to “Shawn Murray and Scott Murray in Trust.”
You can also get updates on how the family is doing through the #JoeyStrong Facebook page by clicking here.
Murray says the support from the community has been truly amazing. He admits it’s also a little tough to accept because their family is used to giving support to the community rather than receiving it.
“I’ve had the sentiment come back to me, ‘Well, Coach you’ve walked through everything with us. It’s our turn to walk through this with you’,” says Murray calling it a humbling experience.
“If we didn’t have the support, we wouldn’t be getting through this at all. It’s just been so incredible for the community to stand alongside us with friends and family stepping up and saying, ‘Whatever you need we’re here’,” Murray says.
“It’s been really amazing to watch.”