James Murphy Needs Help In Battling With A Brain Tumor

By Sefany Jones, Contributing Editor
Wednesday, April 24, 2002 @ 10:00 AM

James Murphy (Testament, Obitu

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As reported by the official James Murphy site :

To everyone in the metal and guitar communities,

In August of 2001 James Murphy, the guitarist you all know from Testament, Death, Obituary, Disincarnate, Shrapnel solo albums and numerous guest spots on CD's and tours throughout the world, was discovered to have a massive tumor growth near the base of his brain and was quickly scheduled for an urgent life saving operation. He is currently staying with his family in Florida during his recovery and follow-up treatments.

In December of 1993 James had put his own project, Disincarnate, on the shelf and moved from Tampa, Florida to Oakland, California where he joined the preeminent Bay area metal band Testament. During the next 7 years he played with Testament on 3 CD's and numerous tours, built up and operated his own Sound Temple recording studio, released 2 solo albums on Shrapnel records, played as a guest on 3 releases and toured with Danish act Konkhra, and made guest appearances on numerous other discs, all while working as an engineer on dozens of CD's and demos.

The first signs that led to his eventual diagnosis began showing as far back as early 1999 and were misunderstood by friends, family, and business associates alike. At first his sight began getting a bit blurry around the edges of his field of vision and he had some short-term memory loss. By the fall of 2000 those symptoms had steadily grown much worse and he had also developed very uncharacteristic behavior patterns and poor judgment ability. The once responsible, conscientious guitarist had begun to mismanage his finances and forget important events and details.

As a result of the growth's effects, particularly on his judgment, memory and behavior, James eventually ended up homeless and lost everything - his studio, guitars and gear, a 12-year career's worth of personal belongings and collections, and very nearly his life.

Luckily, after his family finally convinced him to return to Florida and eventually, some months later, to agree to see doctors about his rapidly worsening symptoms, the tumor was finally discovered. An Optician that his father had taken him to in the hopes of getting him some glasses to help with his poor vision suspected that the cause of the problem was more than merely bad eyes, and suggested an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) as soon as possible. Once the MRI films were developed the tumor was revealed and the reason behind all of James' strange symptoms and behavior was revealed. It was a Pituitary Macro-Adenoma - a huge tumor growth the size of nearly 3 golf balls located beneath the brain and originating on the pituitary gland. It had expanded into the optic chiasm, wrapped itself around the carotid arteries, and was putting great pressure on his brain and optic nerve as well as effecting hormone production. The size of the tumor and its adverse effects made it crucial for James to quickly undergo surgery to remove as much of it as possible or face blindness, the likelihood of an aneurysm, permanent brain damage, and ultimately death within 6 months time.

James underwent surgery on Sep. 17th, 2001 at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Neurosurgeon Dr. Frank Vrionis and Head and Neck surgeon Dr. John Song, performed the operation using a Maxillary Swing procedure that made entry through the left side of the face. An incision was made underneath the left eye, along the side of the nose, and finally through the middle of the upper lip. The facial tissue was then pulled back and the cheekbone removed. They then cut through his sinus and made entry below the orbit of the eye to remove a portion of the growth. More was removed through an incision made in the soft pallet inside the mouth. About 70% of the tumor was removed, the remainder being too close to vital structures to risk further damage. The sinus was then packed with fat tissue taken from the lower abdomen via an incision below the navel and reattached. The cheekbone was set back in place and held with two small titanium plates. The facial tissue was then sutured closed along with the soft pallet. His mouth was fitted with a prosthesis to protect the pallet tissue while it healed. The remaining 30% of the tumor is being treated with a medication to shrink it called Parlodel (Bromocriptine), which he will have to take for the rest of his life.

[To view a "Before and After" surgery photo of James, please visit the site.] Since the surgery he has made a lot of progress on the road to recovery and has overcome many problems. His mind has returned to him and his body is on the mend. However, there are numerous complications caused by the tumor and surgery that he is still struggling with.

As you may imagine the bills for the surgery, medications, follow-up treatments, MRI's, etc., are astronomical. James had no insurance and is penniless due to the tumors effects. His family is helping as much as they can but they simply don't have the resources to cover these expenses. We know there are many out there who will want to help him get through this recovery, help with his continuing medical expenses beyond the $60,000 initial operation, and see him get on his feet so that he can begin making music once again.

To that end we are offering autographed copies of James' two solo CD's "Convergence" and "Feeding The Machine" for sale on this site and accepting donations by credit card, check, or by money order to help raise the necessary funds. There will also be some eBay auctions of rare promotional items and memorabilia from different stages of his career. Details will be announced on this site and by email. Anyone wishing to donate items for auction may contact us by email. All proceeds from CD sales, donations, and auctions go directly to benefit James.

More updates with details on James' condition and more news on how anyone who wishes to can help out will come as soon as they are available. Thanks for your support, it's all for a great cause: JAMES MURPHY

NOTE: Anyone without a credit card who'd like to make a donation by check or money order may do so by sending it in James' name to:

James Murphy
3648 Willow Wisp Dr. S.
Lakeland, FL 33810

Please click here for more details.

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