Supporters help Spring Hill breast cancer survivor feel whole by donating to 'Nickles for Nipples'

Tuesday is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there's a survivor in Spring Hill who says she's feeling especially grateful. 

After undergoing a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, there just was one more surgery that would make her feel whole again. But as she was going in to have the reconstructive surgery, a financial roadblock left her devastated and worried it may never happen.

With a little creativity and generosity from loved ones and strangers - her luck turned around.

Sue Murphy was 38, healthy and had never had a mammogram.

"I didn't even know the symptoms I had were symptoms of breast cancer," Murphy said.

Last year, she decided to get checked.

"When she came back and said, 'you have breast cancer,' it changes your whole world," Murphy said.

Though it was in the early stages, because she has a family history of the disease, she got a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery. A year later and healthy, there's just one more, or rather two more things missing. Her nipples are gone.

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"The way I looked at myself in the mirror wasn't the same anymore," Murphy said. "I decided I need this to make me feel whole again."

Last week, she was scheduled for reconstructive surgery. But two days before, she got a call that halted those plans.

"I'm cleaning somebody's house and they call me up and say, okay, your pre-op is tomorrow. Let's get your paperwork done. And, they said that'll be 4,980-something dollars. And, I said, what? They said, well, you know you didn't have it all done in the fiscal calendar year, whatever it was, you needed to get it done. So, now you have to start from scratch."

"I said, well, I don't have $5,000. [They said] 'Well, you have to give us 30% or we will have to reschedule the surgery," Murphy continued.

She didn't have the 30%, so the surgery was off and she was devastated.

But, she's a very crafty person, not just because she creates and designs decorative ornaments and tumblers to supplement her income. 

She thought about the college football fan who held up a sign at a game asking people to send beer money to his Venmo account. It turned into a massive fundraiser for a children's hospital.

So, she started a fundraiser on Facebook. "We'll call it Nickels for Nipples," she said. "Why not?"

Soon, a lot of nickels started rolling in.

"$10 here, $5 there," Murphy said. "I went to bed that night and it was close to a thousand and I was like this is crazy."

The next day, it was close to $3,000. By Saturday, she made a tearful announcement to her Facebook followers, saying, "I can't believe we just hit five grand."

"I just spent the whole afternoon crying and happy and sad and happy and crying," Murphy said.

The more shares, the more stories people shared.

"I went through breast cancer. I'm going through this. I've watched your story," Murphy recalled. 

Her is a story with a final chapter, thanks to generosity on the internet. She's now determined to pay it forward, perhaps, with her own non-profit helping other breast cancer survivors feel whole again, too.

"To have others see that I have gone through it and they can go through it," Murphy said, "where you can look in the mirror and say, I'm still here, still fighting."

Before any of this, Sue had already planned a pool hall fundraiser to help those fighting breast cancer, in response to the support she received during her fight.

It's the "Sue Murphy Gives Back Breast Cancer 8 Ball Benefit." It's scheduled for Sunday, October 20th at Capone's on 10463 County Line Road in Spring Hill. Doors open at 10 a.m. and play begins at 11 a.m. There will be 50/50 raffles, pool merchandise, gift certificates and more.