PLUMSTED – What has become an annual spring event in New Egypt returned on May 11 with supporters advancing the pace of brain tumor research through a fundraising walk.
Around 170 walkers took part in the walk on Archertown Road for brain tumor research coordinated for the Musella Foundation For Brain Tumor Research & Information Inc.
Long Island resident Al Musella came out for the event. He is the founder and president of the foundation.
He said research support is a big part of what the foundation does. The 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity is dedicated to helping brain tumor patients through emotional and financial support, education, advocacy and raising money for brain tumor research.
Township resident Bruce Blount organized the New Egypt based event. “This was my eighth walk so far, and we have netted over $19,000.”
Blount said that the total from all eight walks was over $116,000. “Six walks were held in New Egypt itself, starting and ending at the athletic field. The walk was moved in 2018 because of possible construction along the pathway. Laurita Winery agreed to let me have the walk there – where I will stay. I have gotten many favorable comments about this venue.
“Several like-minded people from various locations across the country host walks. All forward earnings to the ‘Virtualtrials’ organization. Greater money means greater buying power. There, board physicians decide which brain tumor projects should be funded,” Blount said. He added that “all money earned goes to brain tumor research – operating costs for the walks are donated by sponsors.”
Blount’s motivation to help others came out of his own medical history. The decorated Air Force veteran was on active duty when he was diagnosed having a rare brain tumor.
“It was called an ependymoma. Only three to six percent of brain tumors are ependymomas. Mine is so rare that I actually had to teach my general practitioner about it,” Blount said. “I am a 24-year survivor. After my initial surgery, I have not had a recurrence.”
Musella is a podiatrist in private practice and worked his way through school as a computer programmer for medical research projects. His interest in brain tumors began in 1992 when his sister-in-law, Lana, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) which is a malignant brain tumor that occurs most frequently in middle-aged and older adults. It is a type of glioma, which means it originates in the glial (connective) cells of the brain.
Musella was told it was hopeless. Following her surgery and radiation, the tumor grew larger. She was told she only had a few weeks left to live and there were no options left beyond standard brain tumor treatment.
There was no internet as we know it today at that time and Musella was an active member of Compuserve, and Compuserve had a cancer forum, with sections devoted to the top 10 cancers which did not include a brain tumor section.
Musella created and ran the Brain Tumor Forum on Compuserve in January 1993 and organized the members and had them help survey every major hospital in the country to find what treatments were available.
That list was posted on Compuserve and became the basis for the first internet database of clinical trials which at that time, only maintained lists of clinical trials that they funded, not the trials sponsored by the drug companies or the individual doctors or hospitals.
“She did very well for a while, getting to see her four children grow up. Sadly, she died of a recurrence on Oct. 25, 2000. She lived over eight years after being told she only had a few weeks left,” Musella said.
Musella noted that “Lana spent many of those years in good health and she spent time taking care of her children, working and embracing life.”
Tragically, Musella’s father was diagnosed with a GBM in 1999, a year after he formed the Musella Foundation. His father died three months after his diagnosis.
Blount facilitates two brain tumor support groups. “Honestly prognosis is usually dismal. I have experienced over 100 group members die. There is no known cause, and no cure. I find all of this unacceptable.”