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Moms Panel: Smiling Through the Tears

posted on November 18th, 2009 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Heather Murry
Walt Disney World Moms panelist and mother of five Heather Murry of Georgia knows a lot about life’s challenges. She knows not just how to face those challenges but to conquer them. But raising a large family is just one of things that make Heather a champion.

Walt Disney World has been the Murry family’s “happy place” for years but when Heather was diagnosed with cancer, her family and friends thought that she should put her Walt Disney World vacations on hold. Heather simply said no. “I had five young children, and I needed to be the mom not the patient. Disney was the one place where my illness was not in the forefront of my family.”

According to Heather, visiting Walt Disney World Resort during this stressful time in her life was not frivolous but essential. “I wanted to feel the magic. I needed to feel the kid in me again. I wanted to laugh, I wanted to live and I wanted to escape the needles, the tests, and the doctors. I wanted to be a mom and I wanted to feel life. There were so many reasons not to go but my family and I all needed to find joy again.” she said.

As unbelievable as it may seem, only a few years after Heather received a clean bill of health and was living life as a cancer survivor, one of her children was diagnosed with life-threatening brain cancer. “Life can present challenges that seem insurmountable. Cancer took me down the darkest road of my life but it also opened windows and prepared me for another battle with cancer, only this time it wasn’t me but my child’s. A trip to Walt Disney World may not cure cancer but it allowed us for a short time to believe in make believe. Walt Disney World is much more than a massive theme park but a place where imaginations can flourish, the mind can expand and is inclusive of all.”

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Dirk from FL on November 18th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Hi Heather,

You are an inspiration. Our best wishes are with you and your family. We’ll think about you when we are there over Christmas!


Tim on November 18th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,
In a most delightful way.

Thanks, Heather, for your example.


Cori on November 18th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Heather, you are an inspiration and may you be blessed for your positive attitude!

We, too, are looking toward our next Disney vacation as the haven those trips have become for our family.


Allison from TX on November 18th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Wow, what an amazing story! Disney is definitely a place you can leave your cares behind an relish in the magic surrounding you. My prayers are with her and her family!


Diane from CT on November 18th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Heather – thank you for sharing your story with us. You are a wonderful and inspiring person and I’m so happy to have met you in September. Wishing you and your family good health. Diane L


vickie from AZ on November 18th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Heather, reading your comments brought back many memories of my family especially my brother who had down syndrome. He loved Disneyland. It also brought back the time we went to Disney World. I had just lost both of my parents and I realized I was an orphan at 55.My husband, daughter, sister and I didn’t want to face the traditional Christmas that year so we went to Disney World for Christmas. Oh I felt like a child again. And the good memories came rushing back. Heather, may health and happiness be with you and your family.


C. from MA on November 18th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I know the feeling Heather. Now I can’t say anything like that has even happened to any of my children but when I was going through my treatment (colin cancer / liver cancer) Disney World was my happy place as well. Friends would ask me why on earth I felt the need to “visit Disney World again”. They just don’t understand!!!! For two years I went through my nightmare and had to visit several times to get me through. Now, 5 years out I can’t wait to get back. It is trully the Happiest Place on Earth!



Doug from IN on November 19th, 2009 at 8:56 am

As great as this story is, you don’t get the full picture of what a great person Heather is until you meet her! What a trooper!