How an Entrepreneur Restarted Her Life After Breast Cancer
Badass Women spotlights women who not only have a voice but defy the irrelevant preconceptions of gender.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy, and completing rounds of chemotherapy, Pamela Schein Murphy decided to make the horrific treatment a little easier. She started The R.E.S.T. Initiative in 2006, which offered massage therapy to chemo patients every single day while they were in treatment.
Today, the entrepreneur and wife of celebrity chef and Chopped judge Marc Murphy runs a successful lifestyle website called The Select 7 where she continues to support women and men with recommendations on how to live a full and healthy life. So far, she’s profiled women like Drybar founder Alli Webb and model/multi-hyphenate Lydia Hearst, while building an empire of awareness and self-care. Her latest venture, which she hopes to expand to a podcast and eventually a brick and mortar café, shows her channeling her energy into sharing advice from her guests on their motivations and charities, favorite tastes, fashions, travel spots, social media, etc.
Sparking an idea: “For me, the worst part of all of it wasn't so much the surgery or getting the actual chemo. It was the time spent in the hospital getting chemo," Schein Murphy tells InStyle. "It felt difficult and it felt cold and impersonal.” Often Schein Murphy’s treatments lasted six hours or more, and though she says she was quite lonely, she also felt guilty asking a friend to sit with her for that extended length of time. “I always joked with my chemo nurses, ‘Why isn't there someone here to give me a manicure? I am just sitting here. I could be getting so much done.'”
Though manicures are less doable (chemo also affects the health of nails and cutting cuticles could lead to infections, according to breastcancer.org), Schein Murphy thought reflexology massages could be a much better way to pass the time. So she rallied her family and friends to do fundraisers to pay masseuses and before they knew it The R.E.S.T. Initiative began, offering free massage therapy in chemo treatments rooms every day at her treatment center in New York. “I needed my caner to be about something," she says. "This let it be a little more about self-care than self-mutilation. To take a few minutes while you're having chemo kill cells in your body to also be taking care of yourself is special.”
Wellness at heart: Almost ten years later, Schein Murphy felt ready to support women and men in a new way. Her daughter helped her start a website where she could unleash recommendations of all kinds, from places to eat and travel, to wellness advice and beauty tips. The lifestyle platform, called The Select 7, now spotlights a new person each week separating their recommendations into each day of the week (Monday motivation, Tuesday taste, Wednesday wellness and beauty, Thursday travel, Friday fashion, Saturday interior space, and Sunday social media).
“I turned it into this idea of having the seven verticals matched with each day of the week, and having a person come in and have every week be a new person, sharing their selects or recommendations," she says. She brings in both household names and those less well-known, only requiring that they share authentic information. “I have a 14-year-old daughter. For me, in this age of Insta-fame, it’s really important to see people be authentic, truthful, and interesting. Everything looks better on social media. I like using it to introduce people to new things and new people.”
Entrepreneurial spirit: Schein Murphy’s advice for anyone who wants to follow through on a grand idea: “You just have to do it. You cannot think about it too much beforehand.” She goes on to acknowledge you have to be responsible with your finances, but adds “creativity is killed by being too realistic sometimes.” In short, she says, don’t overthink it. “You're going to eat, sleep, and breathe this, whatever it is, that you are creating. You need to really feel good about it.”
Role model spirit: For Schein Murphy, being a badass woman means being someone who knows what she wants and goes for it, full speed ahead. And though she's interviewed dozens of women and men by now with her site, she says her daughter is actually her top role model. At 14, she’s been helping teach her classmates about sexual harassment and rape culture. “She’s living in a very difficult and strange time but she’s navigating it really well.” And working alongside her mom to help build out The Select 7 has been a mainstay since the beginning. “I think a real badass woman isn't necessarily looking for the future to be female as much as she's looking for the future to be equal.”
Adventuring family: When she's not keeping up with her site, Schein Murphy loves to travel with her family. “The older you get, the harder it is to jump on a plane easily. Learning that at an early age is great.”
Next up: “I think R.E.S.T. was really something. I think The Select 7 right now is. I'm hopeful that I can continue to introduce larger populations to more and more interesting women and men.” Schein Murphy also has a couple recently released collaborations, one a line of totes, clutches, and hats with Poolside Bags with another with The Detox Market. A podcast called "The Select Sessions” will hopefully be hitting the airwaves this summer.