Celebrating Resiliency by Running the 2022 Boston Marathon
Power. Proven. Protected.
Three words strong enough to propel a pair of runners across the 26.2 grueling miles of the Boston Marathon. From the starting line in the town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts to the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square, the pain and discomfort of running would not derail friends Phil Shin and Mark Murphy, whose resiliency and willpower had already been put to the test — and proven during a life-saving experience.
“Running Boston is amazing, but I really wanted that weekend to be about celebrating Mark and his accomplishment — not preparing for the marathon but what he’s done as a human,” said Shin, a senior advisor with Southern California Edison’s IT Solution Architecture. “For Mark to finish the Boston Marathon less than three years after donating a portion of his liver to me, he should be celebrated.”
This year’s Boston Marathon was a victory lap for Shin and Murphy, capping a two-year journey marked by unexpected lows and immeasurable highs. In 2019, Shin’s world stopped when he was diagnosed with liver cancer a second time. He had already undergone surgery to remove a previous tumor, so his only option for recovery was to seek a living donor transplant. For many patients, the transplant recipient list means years of waiting for a donation that may not come while their health deteriorates. To improve his odds, Shin and his family turned to their community, hoping that someone was willing to make the lifesaving donation.
One of the many who stepped up to begin the anonymous donor selection process was Murphy, who Shin met during college. For nearly a year, Murphy worked with Shin’s medical team to determine his viability as a candidate. When comprehensive screenings revealed that Murphy and Shin were physiologically compatible, he was accepted as the primary donor. His next hurdle would be improving his health, preparing for the transplant surgery and finally sharing the news with Shin.
“I was always amazed at how Phil could keep going, and even though he was healthy, I could see it take a mental toll. The reality of the situation was, of course, that I was going to fill this out. The least anybody can ever do is fill out a piece of paper,” said Murphy about the transplant donor request questionnaire. “This was lifesaving for Phil, and even now, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.”
Murphy may not call himself a hero; others disagree, including Edison International President and CEO Pedro J. Pizarro. In a recent companywide virtual meeting with employees, Pizarro championed the friends’ bond and perseverance through adversity, which aligns with the company’s core values to pursue excellence and strive for continuous improvement.
“Mark was not a runner before this,” Pizarro said. “He got in shape so he could give Phil the transplant, and Phil, in turn, helped encourage Mark to run a marathon. It’s great they had the opportunity to run Boston together; both are an inspiration to anyone who knows them.” The successful transplant surgery in 2020 started a new chapter of recovery and resilience, leading Shin and Murphy to this year’s marathon in Boston. Not only did they accomplish their time goals, but together they raised $10,000 for the American Liver Foundation, in part through Edison International’s Matching Gift Program. While the funds will support clinical research and patient services, Shin hopes his experience will encourage others to pursue opportunities leading to a more fulfilling life.
“Despite doing something so heroic as donating a portion of your liver, a kidney, bone marrow or blood, even, you can do so much more. Hopefully, that empowers people to see that beyond just giving life, they can live a more enhanced life,” said Shin.
Shin and Murphy reunited at the USC Transplant Institute this month where they presented their medical teams with Shin’s marathon medal in gratitude for changing the trajectory of their lives. While their future before the transplant surgery was full of unknowns, both are looking forward to a future full of possibilities, better health and many more marathons. And Murphy has the words of inspiration for anyone who doesn’t believe they can achieve the same.
“I’ve got the power. I’ve proven myself. The universe is protecting me — I’ve got this.”