She’s known for her high-octane yells, squeals, laughter, and shout-outs of “Hot Tamale!” But when Mary Murphy returns to “So You Think You Can Dance” next season, the firecracker of a judge won’t be able to do any of the above.
Murphy underwent surgery on Dec. 15, 2010 for thyroid cancer, and doesn’t expect to have a clean bill of health until late January when more tests come back to see if the cancer moved to her lymph nodes or not. “I can’t yell,” Murphy, wearing a scarf around her neck, told us at the Fox Television Critics Association party in Pasadena, California Tuesday night.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to yell again. I just know that I can talk and it’ll take a little more effort right now. But I’m hoping by summertime I’ll be able to give Nigel [Lythgoe, executive producer of ‘SYTYCD’ and co-judge] a scream,” she added with her trademark laugh. “But I’m doing really good. I’m here tonight and I’m glad to be back.”
Murphy’s private ordeal began several years ago. “I’ve known about it for three years,” she admitted. “But I got so busy. One year we had two seasons back-to-back. I was working in Canada. I literally didn’t have any time and honestly I didn’t take care of myself. I should’ve been checking because [the tumor] had made some changes that I wasn’t aware of.”
But thanks to Murphy’s close group of friends, they urged her to get checked. “My friends, God bless them, they kept after me because it started growing so much they could see it in my throat. And, they said, ‘You’ve got to go! You got to get in there.’ So back in September I did. I’ve been signed, by the way since early September, and can you only imagine I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody until today and then on top of it a week or two later a doctor said it’s got to come out and you may never be able to talk again!”
The hardest part for Murphy was the thought of never being able to laugh again. “I laugh every day. It’s not something I just do on TV. I laugh loud. My friends say I tone it down on TV. And, that’s something I identify myself with more than my own audience does is me laughing every day. So the thought of not [laughing again]…,” she trailed off in a moment of seriousness.
On missing out on last season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ she said, “I did really miss it. It was very difficult. I only watched two episodes the whole season. It was really hard, especially when I didn’t agree with what was being said. I’d be sitting there, ‘That’s not true. They didn’t do that!’ It was hard.”
What do you think of Mary’s ordeal? Send her your wishes in the comments below.