Survival Story

Jaclyn Murphy sat in the waiting room on the 9th floor of the hospital patiently waiting for her doctors. Floods of text messages poured onto her phone; which is something typically rare for kids with cancer. A little girl curiously turned to Murphy and asked who kept messaging her; she replied it was her friends at Northwestern. After the little girl left, Murphy turned to her father and said, “We need to get that girl a team.”

This was the beginning of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation whose mission is to help kids with brain tumors. These kids and their families are paired up with either a high school or college sports team to create a support network through these difficult times.

When Murphy was just 9 years old she began throwing up every morning for two weeks. Her parents started off thinking it was just a stomach bug, but quickly their notion changed. Murphy lost her sense of balance and coordination and something seemed “off.” This resulted in her concerned parents taking her to Vassar Brothers Medical Center, and there she was misdiagnosed with anorexia. “I was told I could go home when I stopped throwing up” says Murphy. After realizing she didn’t have an eating disorder, a CAT scan was done which showed devastating results; the doctors wanted to tell the family in person which Murphy says “is never a good sign.” The tests showed that she had a malignant brain tumor the size of a golf ball.

Murphy had surgery that removed the majority of the tumor and underwent chemotherapy soon after. “I struggled with shortness of breath, balancing problems, hearing loss, my growth was stunted, I lost my hair, and went from 80 to 50 lbs.” Despite having a 30 percent survival rate Murphy remained positive, “I always thought I would get better.” For children under the age of 18, brain tumors are one of the leading causes of death. Her family and support network are what allowed her to overcome this tough time.

Before she was sick, Murphy played lacrosse at a local gym with about 32 other kids (she was one of two girls) and her coach noticed a lot of potential. When she didn’t come back for a while, her parents contacting him and let him know she was sick. “He wanted to do something for me so with connections he had to Northwestern University’s lacrosse team. They sent me a care package a few weeks later.” They sent her a media guide with all their signatures and well wishes along with other goodies. The team was playing at Johns Hopkins University and Murphy begged her dad to take her to the game. He did and that was the first time she got to meet the team. As she told her story to the girls “there wasn’t a dry eye in sight.”

Murphy was “adopted” by Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team and grew so close to the girls that she thinks of them as her big sisters. Now, Murphy has been cancer free for ten years. Although she remains positive, she knows realistically that “the cancer can always come back” and be a problem again. But for now, the 20 year old is thriving at Marist College as a Communication major with a concentration in advertising.

As the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation has grown over many years, the foundation was featured on HBO twice. It was around freshmen-sophomore year for Murphy when she was filmed around her high school. By this time, Murphy and her family were used to the press and claimed she was “blessed but shocked” at the opportunity.

Murphy’s younger sister, Taryn started a feature on the website called Safe on the Sidelines which is designed to help the siblings of a child with a brain tumor. “I was nine and my sister was seven. My mom would take care of me in the morning, then my dad at night, and they would switch off” explains Murphy. Taryn was also too young to visit her sister in the hospital so she stayed with family friends and neighbors a lot. Their relationship is a lot stronger now that they both are older and Taryn thought it was important to provide support to siblings like her.

Looking at the list of teams involved is very impressive and there are over 500 currently on the list. “My dad was just at Pennsylvania State University adding their lacrosse and football teams.” There are over a thousand teams on the waiting list.

Murphy has great advice for anyone dealing with a difficult situation like hers- she suggests taking one day at a time and connecting with people who will understand. Family is a great outreach but so are true friends. “I wish I involved my close friends more in my life at that time” says Murphy who admits to not wanting them to see her so ill. The biggest piece of advice is to live by the motto “live in the moment, play in the moment” which she lives by every single day.

*This article was written for a magazine writing course and published in Marist’s newspaper- The Circle.


Newspaper Articles

NewspapersHere are links to Corinna’s articles with the Readington Newspaper. Please click on the title of the article and go to the specified page. Enoy!

To access Town Media Community Newspapers click here.


FAST Overnight Holiday Marketing Tips For “Main Street” Businesses

StoresHappy Holidays!

Corinna Kaufman, journalist with JenningsWire, asked lots of marketing experts for their fast turnaround HOLIDAY marketing tips that small “mom and pop” style businesses can implement almost overnight.

“My favorite tip of all,” says Corinna, “is the one about Santa Clause because of the family nature of the tip and that the Santa experience will be fun for the kids!   But actually, I love them all and hope that small businesses can enjoy a happy and profitable holiday season using the tips below.”

All of the ideas are designed for fast implementation so you can kick up your Holiday marketing FAST!


Marketing and SEO consultant, Ricky Shockley,  offers the following two tips:

Provide an incentive for passersby and display it prominently!

Tip 1: People are drawn to deals, sales, giveaways and other forms of promotion. Whether you are having a sale on a specific item, offering a freebie with a purchase or have any other offering that you think will attract business, let the people know! If you aren’t able to offer any incentive for potential customers, think of a creative call-to-action that can help attract business. For example, if you are a small coffee shop, posting something simple like “Take a break from shopping to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a danish! Free Wi-Fi inside!” can help attract business. A prominent call-to-action is one of the most effective marketing principles through any medium.

Be sure to capture the email of your customers

Tip 2: The holidays tend to be the busiest time of year for many businesses. Make sure you are capturing email addresses for all of your holiday customers! Having email communication with your customers can help build strong connections that lead to referrals, repeat business and loyalty.

Retail Consultant, Mary A. Alonso, offers the following tip:

Make an appealing presentation

Tip 3: Make it easy for customers to add on extra gifts.  Make an appealing presentation up front so that it draws customers as soon as they walk in (or click in).  It can be a front table or a primary wall or a pop-up on your site.  Make a second grouping at the cash desk so there is another opportunity to sell.

Media relations specialist, Jerian DiMattei,  likes this strategy:

Have a customer sweepstakes

Tip 4:  Have a contest or a sweepstakes throughout the Holiday Season. Consumers will be inclined to participate for a chance to win something and it will keep your brand in the front of consumers mind.

 Owner, Mohan Ramchandani, Mohan’s Custom Tailors, NYC says this works for their shop:

Provide a special offer

Tip 5: Offer holiday shoppers a special offer including buy one/get one free for the season to add extra value.  We’re offering a special on custom-made suits for our targeted buyers.

Marketing consultant, David Anderson, author of Armchair Millionaire and How To Double Your Salary In Two Months ( says free goodies are always a good choice:

Offer free goodies

Tip 6: “Nothing gets people into stores faster than free stuff.  And the beauty of stores like candy shops, toy stores, flower shops and coffee shops is that fact that they have products that are really cheap.  If they select the right high margin products or end of line, the cost can be virtually free.  The key is to provide giveaways that make people want to buy.   “Here’s an example.  If you’re a candy shop owner, open up a few of the large sweet containers and put candies in individual wrappers or small bags.  Put a large sign over these saying things like “Granny’s Favorites” or “Delicious Dad’s Sweets” so that the customer, while happy about the free candy, starts thinking, “This would be great for …”

Richelle Shaw, RTS Publishing says:

Give customers a red envelope…

Tip 7: Give each person who buys something a red envelope with a discount offer that they can only open when they return to the store on the next visit (make it before the big holiday so that they can get repeat sales)

Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers,

Offer a picture with Santa promotion

Tip 8:  This is an awesome marketing strategy to get people in your door. Just make sure you use an instamatic camera so you can disburse the photos with Santa immediately. This can be a bit of a challenge, but they are still available.”

Note From Annie Jennings, Creator Of JenningsWire:  As one of the tips above mentioned, be sure to ask your customers  if they would like to give you their email address so you can stay in touch all year round with lots of special offers and other goodies.   This way, you can build up your database and reach your customers quickly via email newsletter.


Article written for the online magazine JenningsWire. To view all articles written by Corinna click here


Holiday Family Drama, Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

HolidaysGot Family Holiday Drama?

Some families suffer from it around the holidays whether it is old family baggage or a cramped house with company during the holidays. It’s much easier said than done for everyone to “just get along.” But, this is the time of year to expand your patience!

So how exactly do we avoid these conflicts?

JenningsWire features Psychologist and Life Coach, Amy Johnson, Ph.D of Dr. Johnson is the author ofModern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life and she shares the following five tips on how to maintain the peace during the Holiday season:

Accept them for who they are

Tip 1: Work on accepting them exactly as they are. It’s Number 1 for a reason. It’s at the root of everything, and it’s also probably the most difficult thing on the list. A gigantic proportion of your frustration comes from wanting others to be different than they are. You know you can’t change them-wishing for them to act the way you would act only drives you crazy.

You are only in control of yourself, not others

Tip 2: Don’t take things so personally; it’s really not about you. It’s not-their stuff is about them, not you. If they disapprove of the date you brought, start pressuring you to find a job, don’t thank you for the gift you spent hours picking out, that’s about them. They get to choose their behaviors, and what they choose is always more a function of their experiences and their worldview than it is about you.

Take the high road

Tip 3: Choose your battles when it comes to addressing things that bother you. Of course there are exceptions and there may be times you desperately need to speak up for yourself or leave the situation. But by and large, family time during the holidays is relatively short and infrequent. Remind yourself that you’re leaving town tomorrow and take the high road by letting things go.

Your family is unique

Tip 4: Don’t compare your family to others. No family is perfect. The ones that look perfect only appear so from your outside perspective. Everyone’s dealing with something in life; if it’s not family drama, it’s something else. Comparing your family to others’ is the opposite of accepting them exactly as they are. That’s why it hurts to do it. The more you compare, the worse you feel, period.

Hold your tongue

Tip 5: Choose being happy over being right. You know how you’re 100% confident that you’re right and they’re wrong? Well, I have news for you. They’re just as sure that they’re right and you’re wrong. Since you aren’t going to change their mind, why not decide that it’s enough that you know you’re right and leave it at that. Choose peace and happiness over righteousness.

Tips provided by Amy Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Amy Johnson is a Social Psychologist, Master Certified Coach, and public speaker. She also has taught university-level psychology, consulted on several high-profile court cases, spoken to audiences around the country about success and happiness, and sailed around the world. She works with clients worldwide via telephone and online individual and group coaching programs.

Article written for the online magazine JenningsWire. To view all articles written by Corinna click here


Fast & Easy Homemade Gifts: Vanilla Lip Balm, Rose Clay Sugar Scrub, Scented Bath Salts 

Homemade Bath SaltsIt’s the time for giving!

The gift giving season is right around the corner! Many of us this year unfortunately just do not have the budget for extravagant presents. Luckily, we can always muster up some homemade gifts at home. Here are three easy, fun gift ideas that take no time at all and just a couple of ingredients!

Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Bramble Berry: Soap Making Supplies, and author of Liquid Soapmaking, shows how to make two amazing homemade gifts, the Vanilla Latte Lip Balm and the Rose Clay Sugar Scrub below (FYI, some ingredients mentioned by Anne-Marie can be found at

Vanilla Latte Lip Balm

A soothing and moisturizing lip balm that only takes 10 minutes!

What you will need:

4 oz Cocoa Butter
2 oz Coffee Butter
.6 oz Avocado Oil
20 Classy Lip Pots

ONE:  In a small heat-safe container, use a microwave to melt the Cocoa Butter. It helps to break it down to the smallest chunks possible before heating it or you can mix it with the Avocado Oil to help the butter melt down smoothly. Cocoa butter has a higher melting point than other solid oils, so be sure your heat-safe container is able to withstand prolonged temperatures and if it’s glass, remove it from the microwave with a pot holder.

TWO:  Add the Coffee Butter to the Cocoa Butter and stir until the Coffee Butter is completely melted and the mixture is no longer cloudy (you may have to zap it in the microwave for a few more seconds).

THREE:  Add the Avocado Oil and mix well (if you didn’t already during the Cocoa Butter melting phase).

FOUR:  Line up the containers and pour the mixture into the Classy Lip Pots. Allow mixture to harden. Twist on the lids and enjoy!

TIP:  Try adding a bit of Stevia or Lip Smacking Sweet to the recipe. Prefer cream? Why not try Vanilla or Buttercreme (or Caramel or Coconut or…) Flavors; the possibilities are staggeringly fun!

Rose Clay Sugar Scrub

An exfoliating scrub that only takes 15 minutes to whip up!

What you will need:

10 oz Foaming Bath Whip (available on site link above)
1 oz Sweet Almond Oil
0.4 oz Black Amber and Lavender Fragrance Oil
3 teaspoons Rose Clay
12 oz Sugar
Jar or other container (for packaging/storage)
Hand-held or Stand Mixer

ONE:  Using a mixer, beat the Foaming Bath Whip (by itself) for about a minute or less. You’re just looking for a little bit of volume, a sort of “wake me up”!

TWO:  Add the Sweet Almond oil and Black Amber & Lavender Fragrance. Mix well.

THREE:  Add the Rose Clay and mix well.

FOUR:  Once all of the other ingredients are well mixed, add the sugar a little bit at a time, mixing fully each time before adding more sugar. Continue until all of the sugar is incorporated.

FIVE:  Transfer the sugar scrub to jars or other containers using a spoon or spatula.

Homemade Bath Salts

Next, the Epsom Salt Council, shares how to make some homemade bath salts:

What you will need:

A large, mixing bowl
A 12-count muffin pan
4 cups of Epsom salt
Food coloring
Your choice of essential oil
Either vitamin E oil (soft gel capsules or the liquid oil will work) OR you can use olive oil

  Combine 4 cups of Epsom salt with 3 tablespoons of water. Squeeze 3-4 vitamin E oil soft gel capsules or use 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil into the mixture (you can also use 1 teaspoon of olive oil rather than vitamin E oil).

TWO:  Add 10-15 drops of essential oil, depending on how strong you like your fragrance. Add food coloring until desired shade is achieved.

NOTE:  When you bake the bath salts, some of the fragrance and color will evaporate, so use generous amounts of both when you mix the ingredients.

THREE:  Coat the inside of each muffin mold with one vitamin E oil capsule or 1-2 drops of olive oil. (Note: If you are using olive oil, instead of the vitamin E oil, add a drop of essential oil to help mask the smell of the olive oil).

FOUR:  Divide mixture evenly among the muffin molds. Firmly pack the mixture and bake at 150 degrees for one hour.

NOTE:  Avoid hotter temperature, because they could melt the bath salts. Let cool for 20-30 minutes. Turn pan upside down and gently ease the bath salts out of the mold.

FIVE:  Gently place the bath salts in a mason jar. Three should fit in small jars, and five in larger ones.

Finish with a decorative bow!


Article written for the online magazine JenningsWire. To view all articles written by Corinna click here


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