In 2003, I was home on author tour for my second book, celebrating at lunch with classmates from my brother’s class.


As we finished, they went around and around the table, telling me who had died from our high school and neighborhoods. I sat in shock.

The list was too long. They were too young to be gone already, and I knew too many of them.


In 1979, my family and I lived only 12 miles due south of Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant.

One of five in my home state of Pennsylvania and with three on the Susquehanna River, the drinking water to six million.

TH 2 The Murphy Family 1970s.jpg

(1973) Murphy Family at their new home in York, Pennsylvania.

On that fateful day Wednesday, March 28, 1979, Mike and I had track practice after school. Afterwards, we delivered the evening newspaper to 88 homes – just like we had done for the last five years. Little did we know, we were under a radioactive plume.


In 2005, my brother Mike, who’s just 13 months younger, called me from Florida with his diagnosis of a brain tumor.

In the span of seven years, he would be also diagnosed with skin cancer and then thyroid cancer in 2012. In that same year, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.


What was so surprising is that we were five-sport athletes, we ate clean (had an organic garden before it labeled that) and did not take any prescription drugs at all – ever.

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