Ex-TESTAMENT/DEATH Guitarist Says His Brain Tumor Is Not Cancerous

Florida-based guitarist-turned-producer James Murphy, who is best known for his guitar work with TESTAMENT, DEATH, OBITUARY, CANCER and DISINCARNATE, recently expressed concern that the tumor he "battled and defeated" nine years ago may have recurred after discovering that the hormone indicator was 20 times higher than the low it reached as recently as one year ago. He has since revealed that his most recent MRI showed that the tumor only grew a little, so no surgery is needed, and radiation therapy has been, at least for the moment, ruled out. The new growth will be treated pharmacologically by increasing Murphy's dose of the hormone inhibitor he is currently taking, or switching to the other (better, but more expensive) drug that can treat his particular condition.

Murphy's latest update, as posted on his Facebook page:

"A lot of you keep saying the 'C' word... I've been as clear as possible from the start that my tumor was/is, as I've understood my doctors, not cancerous... at least not of the kind that spreads rampantly around the body. It was quite large originally, and I was close to the worst of all possible outcomes before the surgery that saved my life in 2001, but my tumor was/is a fully encapsulated pituitary adenoma.

"I know it's a fairly normal response to the word 'tumor' to think of cancerous tumors, but I don't want to detract from the plights of those with actual malignancies by not correcting the misperception that mine is of that nature. The tumor I have can grow, and has grown a bit since my previous MRI from 18 months ago, and that can cause serious problems for me certainly, even death were it to grow large enough again... but it won't spread into other structures; it can only grow larger and push into other organs, putting pressure on them or strangling them. That's my understanding at least, and is why I was nearly blind when it was discovered originally, as it had pushed outward to my optic nerves... and also why i had memory issues, as it pressed into other parts of my brain from below.

"The best way to sum this type of tumor up, best as I understand what was explained to me anyway, is that as long as it's inhibited from getting larger I'll be OK... I'll have to take a prescription to inhibit its growth for the rest of my life, as well as a couple other 'scripts to normalize the hormone issues caused by the fact that the tumor is on, and essentially part of, the pituitary gland. I may have to receive radiation therapy at some point or in the worst case even another surgery, as was my recent scare, but from this particular type of tumor there is no worry of it spreading to other organs or lymph nodes, etc... only the concern of keeping it from becoming larger. The tumor nearly did take me out once, and could yet do so if it began growing unchecked again, so it's a very serious condition... but it's not a malignant cancer.

"We all know that malignant cancers sometimes leave their victims with no real fighting chance, which is something I've been fortunate to have, along with a reasonably normal life for the past nine years since my surgery (minus a year's recovery and rehabilitation period). There have been many we all knew and cared for that did not have such chances.

"I am a very lucky man... both in that I did have a fighting chance, even at my most dire point, and that I have so many fantastic human beings that have reached out to help, support, encourage, and uplift me during my periods of hardship.

"Take a moment today to remember all those that were never given favorable odds and ultimately lost their fights... and another moment or two to reach out to those in each of your lives that may still be struggling with malignant tumors or other serious illnesses and just say, 'Hi, I'm thinking about you, keep fighting, I love you!' .... it means more than you can know, as I've learned twice in my lifetime thus far."

In related news, REDSCREAM the new Stockholm, Sweden-based project featuring three members of the legendary Swedish death metal band GRAVE alongside American guitarist Ralph Santolla (OBITUARY, DEICIDE) is selling its first official T-shirt, with half the proceeds going to offset James Murphy's medical bills. The design is a logo/shield on the front, with a one-time-only message about James on the sleeve. Prices are 25 euros or 30 dollars, which includes shipping everywhere except Stockholm, where REDSCREAM will deliver the T-shirt personally. There will be 100 shirts manufactured and ready for delivery in mid-November. You can pre-order at [email protected] Please include your size and country of origin.

For more information, visit REDSCREAM's official Facebook page.

In August 2001, Murphy was discovered to have a massive tumor growth near the base of his brain and was quickly scheduled for an urgent life-saving operation. James underwent surgery on September 17, 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 James' 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 was treated with a medication to shrink it called Parlodel (Bromocriptine), which James was told he would have to take for the rest of his life.

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