Redskins cheerleader, Wizards dancer battles rare form of tumor

Lindsey Murray, a Washington Redskins cheerleader and Wizards dancer who was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. (WJLA)

LEESBURG, Va. (WJLA) – We’ve all heard about the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Now, a local woman is seeking to raise awareness for another cause, after a harrowing battle of her own.

Lindsey Murray had a life many young women only dream of—she was a Wizards dancer and then a Redskins cheerleader, all while maintaining a professional sales career. Then, she heard the words that changed it all.

“I was not expecting to hear the word ‘tumor’ and ‘chemo’ to come out of my specialist’s mouth,” Murray said. “To be honest, I was in a state of shock.”

Doctors told Murray not to worry about the lump she found in her breast, that it was just an enlarged rib or inflammation. She went undiagnosed for six months until, finally, an oncologist classified her grapefruit-sized lump as a desmoid tumor. It was benign but rare, aggressive and difficult for surgery.

“It’s typically seen in young patients, so most patients are actually fairly healthy with a good lifestyle,” said Dr. Alex Spira. “Nothing we know can cause this.”

Murray underwent five months of chemotherapy, only to discover the tumor had grown by 25 percent. Dr. Spira tried something new—nearly a year of an oral chemotherapy typically only given to liver and kidney cancer patients.

“At that point, every phone call I was getting from him was, ‘It’s growing a little bit,’” Murray said. “My phone rang and I was shaking. And he goes, ‘Lindsey, good news!’ And I literally just, like, fell to the ground.”

The tumor had shrunk by 82 percent, then 99 percent as of April. So grateful, Murray has joined a “Dizzy for Desmoids” Challenge, inspired by the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. She hopes to raise both awareness and funds for a cure, and has nominated the current Washington Redskins cheerleading squad to participate.

Because desmoid tumors often re-occur, Murray must now be closely monitored. But she says she wants to turn a negative into a positive and help others with the disease.

Murray’s dancing days aren’t over just yet—she’s just hung up the professional pom poms for now.