It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – your child has gone for a checkup and doctors have found something potentially serious. That was what happened to famous screenwriter Ryan Murphy when his son Ford was still a one-year-old. It was utterly devastating. However, Murphy has recently shared an update on how little Ford is doing.
Now, Murphy has had an extremely successful career in television. For instance, he’s the man behind the popular TV shows Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, Pose, 9-1-1 and more. And he has no less than six Emmy Awards under his belt, plus one Tony Award and a Golden Globe.
And Murphy’s personal life has gone well too. Yes, he’s married to David Miller, a photographer, and they have two kids together. There’s Ford, of course, and there’s his older brother Logan. Both boys are still very young, but, naturally, they’ve been introduced to the showbiz world already. For you see, among Ford’s godmothers is none other than Gwyneth Paltrow.
Right from the beginning both Miller and Murphy wanted children. In September 2012, Murphy told Vogue magazine, “We both had really difficult, tumultuous upbringings, and it’s…not a way to heal that… but definitely a way to explore it.” To add to that, he said he believed that if he had no kids, “I will really, really regret it.”
The following month, Murphy told the The Hollywood Reporter that he hoped to become a parent “hopefully sometime next year.” He said, “People always say when you have a child it brings you back to when you were a kid, and I’m excited to do that. I had a very rocky, difficult, emotional childhood with my parents.”
Indeed, Murphy’s childhood was a painful one. For instance, he was beaten by his father for being gay, he’s always alleged. Once, his father caught him acting out a female role from Gone with the Wind and smacked him in the face. The elder Murphy died in 2011, and he in fact wrote his son an apology letter on his deathbed.
In a May 2018 interview with The New Yorker, Murphy retrieved that last letter from his father and read it. And while it made no mention of any physical abuse, his father did speak of regrets. Murphy mused, “If I ever had to write a letter like this to my child, I would honestly die.”
Moving on, Murphy and Miller had their two children within just two years: Logan in December 2012 and Ford in October 2014. Upon Ford’s birth Murphy told E! News, “I brought him home today from the hospital and Logan gave him kind of a side eye. For 21 months, Logan has been the light of my life and now there are two.”
You see, becoming a dad was a whole new journey for Murphy. In March 2015 he told Entertainment Tonight that he “thought I was going to be the biggest hardass ever” when it came to the children. Instead, he said, “I am shocked to tell you that I am the opposite. I am the biggest pushover. I’m the biggest softie.”
As Murphy explained to ET’s Nischelle Turner, “You get to see this life unfold and this baby who came out is now cracking jokes and saying funny things.” Touchingly, he added, “It’s a heartwarming human experience. It was the best thing I ever did in my life and I waited a really long time but I’m glad that I did.”
Unsurprisingly, the screenwriter implied that he wished his children to be brought up in a very different way from himself. He said, “Our child is going to go to a school where there are people like him with same-sex parents and diversity and cultural diversity. It has made me realize how much I admire parents. Let’s say in the middle of the country – like where I’m from in Indiana, or the south, Alabama – gay parents who live there, how much more difficult it must be.”
But parenting was, of course, a difficult and nerve-wracking business. The first time Murphy had to endure the horror of a seriously ill child was in 2015. Years later, in 2018, he told the Fox’s Television Critics Association panel, “My son Ford was 11 months old and in the middle of the night stopped breathing.”
Of course, this scenario was terrifying but luckily help was at hand. As Murphy explained to the panel, “We called 9-1-1, and obviously we were in a panic and doing CPR, and they showed up, and at two in the morning there were four responders. They were incredibly calm and nurturing, and they brought him back to life.”
In fact, the incident helped inspire Murphy’s television show 9-1-1, which premiered in 2018. He told the room, “I’m interested in presenting stories that are uplifting and aspirational and that give you hope, given viewers hope that here is good out there. There is a feeling that I was left with [when the responders saved my son], and that feeling is what we’re trying to put in the show.”
But unfortunately, there would be more health-related horror to come for the new parents. Yes, sadly, Ford’s difficulties were not over. For in October 2018 Murphy wrote a detailed Instagram post about a new struggle the family was going through. Little Ford had been diagnosed with a form of cancer back in 2016.
As Murphy wrote on his Instagram, “Two years ago , this sweet little innocent boy with a deep belly laugh and an obsession with Monster Trucks was diagnosed with neuroblastoma… an often fatal pediatric cancer.” As with many cancers, survival normally depends on when the tumor is found and the treatment the patient undergoes.
What’s more, neuroblastoma is, unfortunately, a fairly common condition. Roughly one in 7,000 children will be diagnosed with it – sometimes even while they are still in the womb. And it usually affects children under the age of five. Why? Because the cancer comes from the cells that create the baby during pregnancy.
Luckily Ford’s condition was discovered early. Yes, Murphy wrote in his Instagram post, “Ford’s cancer – an abdominal tumor the size of a tennis ball — was found during a normal check up by his brilliant pediatrician Dr. Lauren Crosby. From there, Ford has undergone a huge surgery and several difficult procedures.”
And the screenwriter continued, “My better half, David Miller, was a rock through this — strong and patient and loving (I was always a trembling wreck). Ford was strong as well, and today he is thriving.” And there was good news. Murphy said, “He just celebrated his fourth birthday, a milestone we are all so thrilled about.”
As you can appreciate, part of the reason behind the Instagram post was to thank those who’d helped Murphy’s son. The screenwriter wrote, “Ford is doing so well because of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Today at the hospital we are donating a wing in tribute to Ford and our family is making a gift of $10 million dollars so that other children can experience the love and care of this exceptional facility.”
You see, The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, or CHLA, is actually the highest-ranked children’s hospital in the whole of California. And it accepts all patients regardless of their insurance. Murphy wrote to finish off his post, “No child is turned away at Children’s Hospital. We are so honored and lucky to contribute, and encourage everybody who can to do the same. We love you, Ford.”
As a result of the post, many sent well-wishes to Ford and his family via the Instagram comments’ section. One person wrote, “Congrats on Ford’s health, and I applaud you for your generous gift that will help so many needy sick kids!” Another said, “This is amazing news. What an amazing gift you’re giving and what a beautiful boy.”
As a tribute to the Miller-Murphy family and their large donation to the hospital, CHLA named the fifth floor of their Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion after Ford. Yes, it’s now the “Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Floor.” On that floor, sick children will be able to engage in play and art as well as undergoing care.
Furthermore, in a statement published by the hospital in October 2018, senior vice president of CHLA Alexandra Carter said, “We are thrilled the Miller Murphy family is now forever a part of the CHLA family. Ryan Murphy and David Miller have a long and admirable history of championing underserved members of our community. Their values and commitment to help others along with their charitable support align with our hospital’s mission to create hope and build healthier futures.”
What’s more, Murphy himself had something to contribute. He said, “David and I, as well as Logan, are immensely grateful for the care that CHLA provided not only to Ford, but to us as well. His cancer diagnosis was one of life’s unexpected moments and the team at the hospital provided a comforting atmosphere in the midst of a trying situation.” And there was more.
For Miller, Ford’s other father, added, “CHLA was an obvious choice for us when we learned of Ford’s diagnosis. We needed a support system and their experience with children and parents proved invaluable.” Other portions of the donated money will go towards cancer research at the hospital and possible treatments.
Speaking to The New Yorker, Murphy revealed he had actually thrown up when he heard his son had a tumor. After that, he couldn’t stop being sick for the entire day. So eventually his husband had to call a nurse to help him, in the midst of everything else going on. It had certainly been a terrible experience.
As Murphy told The New Yorker, “When you hear your son has cancer, your first thought is of death. I’m just glad I was sober. I can’t imagine going through it without having a clear head.” In addition to everything else, he wanted to keep his son’s battle out of the media and a private matter.
But before long, the screenwriter realized that by sharing his family’s cancer story, he could potentially help others. As he went on to explain, “It just takes the stigma out of it. To realize, ‘Oh, other people are going through this.’ You see hope. Just because your child has this doesn’t mean he is going to die.”
And come October 2019, Murphy had some news about his son that he wished to share with the world. That month he attended Variety’s “Power of Women” party, where he presented an award to his friend (and successful TV executive) Dana Walden in honor of her own work for healthcare.
And while handing over the award, Murphy explained the story so far. He said, “Three years ago my beautiful son Ford went for a standard typical 18 month exam.” While his child’s abdomen was being checked, he said, “Ford coughed at the exact right moment,” and that revealed that something was wrong.
The American Horror Story writer went on, “He sat up, she [the doctor] was able to press her fingers in a bit deeper, her eyes widened. Something was not right. From that moment came a day of terror and scans.” And he went on, “My baby had a tumor the size of a tennis ball at 18 months growing behind his abdominal wall. And the doctor said this was bad.”
But Walden, Murphy said, had been a tremendous help that day. And he explained to the audience that, upon learning the diagnosis from the doctors, “The first person I called was Dana, who is the godmother to both Ford and our older son, Logan. And Dana instantly charged into action as she does.”
Getting quite emotional, he went on, “In a day, thanks to her knowledge and acumen and understanding, we were at Children’s Hospital. So she organized the whole thing as I was getting sick in a bathroom.” Indeed, he said that Walden had been there for the family as Ford underwent life-saving treatment.
Furthermore, Murphy told the award ceremony audience, “Ford went through a six-hour surgery and years of intense exams which required hours and hours of anesthesia. I cannot express to you in this room how difficult this was on him, how difficult this was for our family.” He himself, he said, still hadn’t recovered from it.
But, Murphy went on, Ford himself had recovered fine – both mentally and physically. As reported by PopCulture.com, he told the audience, “I am so proud to proclaim that he is cancer-free.” And needless to say, there was then a massive round of applause and cheering at the happy news. But that’s not all.
For Murphy wished to go on helping other people who had suffered the pain of seeing a child diagnosed with cancer. He said in his speech, “Through this experience, our family has come to understand, finally, that this is a disease which touches us all. And we must help and we must be prepared and we must be proactive.”
The screenwriter continued, according to PopCulture.com, while still honoring his friend’s actions, “Last year, our family made a ten-million dollar donation to Children’s Hospital and there is now a wing dedicated under Ford’s name which specializes in helping children without our resources. Children without a champion like we had in Dana Walden.”
And CHLA remain overjoyed at the donation given to them. Dr. James Stein, one of the people who helped save Ford’s life, told the hospital’s website, “Our hospital is one of the leading institutions in the nation for treating children with cancer. I deeply appreciate Ryan and David’s generosity in supporting this important work for future generations of children.”
What’s more, Miller also lent his backing to the hospital on its website. As he went on to explain, “Ford is thriving in preschool, and he’s been free and clear for over two years now. In sharing this story, I hope we can give other families hope and help them know they are not alone in the struggles they face.” So although Murphy and Miller had a traumatic time, it had the best possible outcome in the end. And furthermore, thousands of children will now go on to benefit from cancer care at the hospital’s new wing.