It was two weeks ago, just days after being sworn in to the Australian parliament, that the 45-year-old Labor MP was told the breast cancer that had been successfully treated in 2011 had returned.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on July 24, 2019

“I’m going to start by saying this today. Ladies, check your breasts. Men, stop ignoring what your body’s telling you.”

In her maiden speech to the Australian Parliament, the newly elected MP Peta Murphy revealed that she has breast cancer.

It was two weeks ago, just days after being sworn in to the parliament, that the 45-year-old Labor MP was told her breast cancer that had been successfully treated in 2011 had returned.

The CEO Magazine partners with the Children’s Cancer Institute for the 2019 CEO Dare to Cure

“You might say ‘Murphy’s Law strikes again’,” Murphy, a former criminal lawyer and barrister, told parliament.

“But my mother Jan, who is a Murphy by marriage not birth and therefore able to adopt a less pessimistic personal motto, would say ‘everything happens for a reason’.

“Cancer Australia estimates that in 2019 just over 19,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 145,000 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.

“I am neither unique nor alone in the fight I am about to take on.”

Murphy said she would use her role in parliament as long as she was a member to benefit others and sent a message to politicians to listen to health professionals.

“Fellow members of this parliament, listen to the experts who warn that the promise of universal healthcare is under threat. Commit to the reform and funding that our health system needs. And do whatever is required to ensure that Australia trains, retains and invests in the healthcare professionals and researchers who make our system great,” Murphy told parliament.

Murphy echoed the words of Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who told parliament “cancer really sucks” in a similarly emotional speech after returning from 18 months away fighting stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“Cancer sucks. The treatments can make you sick. Sometimes you are scared, sometimes you are angry. In my experience, often you are both at the same time,” Murphy said.

“You worry about how your friends and family are coping. You value their support but resent the fact that you need it.”