Death Metal Pioneer Undergoes Successful Surgery, Still Faces Mounting Medical Bills

After facing grim prospects late last week, the story of death metal pioneer Chuck Schuldiner has taken a decidedly more positive turn this week.

On Wednesday, the 32-year-old Schuldiner (who is credited with helping to forge death metal and grindcore with his band Death) underwent successful surgery on the brain tumor he was diagnosed with last year.

Sources close to the family report that Schuldiner pulled through what was scheduled to be an eight-hour surgery in a mere four hours, and that the musician was already speaking shortly after the operation (specifically requesting that a copy of Iron Maiden’s biography be brought to his hospital room).

Schuldiner got even better news when doctors discovered that the type of tumor they removed from the singer was not as rare as originally believed. The day after the operation, he was said to be “lucid and cognizant” and is expected to begin rehabilitation as early as Friday.

The singer now faces weeks of physical
therapy and chemotherapy, as well as the daunting notion of mounting medical bills. As we reported last week, Schuldiner faces the familiar plight of uninsured musicians everywhere, and with the cost of his surgery hovering between $70,000 and $100,000, his family initially feared that he might not be able to afford the lifesaving operation (see “Death Metal Godfather Struggles To Fund Lifesaving Surgery” ).

Though the diagnosis was disproved during Wednesday’s surgery, the Death frontman was originally diagnosed with pontine giloma (a rare type of brain tumor usually found only in children) last year and was told that the experimental procedure needed to save his life could only be performed in New York.

“It all started when we were recording the album for Control Denied [Schuldiner's latest project] back in March,” Schuldiner recalled to MTV News this week. “I noticed my neck hurt, and then my arms started feeling weird. Once we
got out of the studio, I got massage therapy, I went to see an acupuncturist, and I basically didn’t know what was going on until someone said, ‘You should really get an MRI,’ because nothing was helping. So I went in, got an MRI, and that’s when we found out. Luckily I went.”

Schuldiner and his family found a team of five specialists willing to waive their fees for the procedure, but New York University Medical Center’s Tisch Hospital (which hosted the operation) is still running a tab that will likely fall between $70,000 and $100,000.

The hospital has been talking to Schuldiner’s family in an effort to work out a payment plan, and after the singer’s story surfaced last week at MTV.com, his family was flooded with thousands of e-mails from fans and friends all over the world offering their support. As Schuldiner’s family begins to tackle his skyrocketing medical bills, those who wish to make donations to his medical fund are urged to send a check to:

The Chuck Schuldiner
Medical Fund Washington Mutual Bank 500 East Altamonte Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701 Account Number 351-356-4696

Those hoping to contact the family to offer other forms of help or warm wishes can e-mail tanzid@freewwweb.com or write to the singer’s mother, Jane Schuldiner, at 609 E. Citrus St., Altamonte Springs, Florida, 32701.

Schuldiner formed Death in his native Florida in 1983 and released the band’s first album, “Scream Bloody Gore,” on Combat Records in 1987. While Death has released seven albums since its formation, Schuldiner (like most musicians) was not granted medical insurance by any of the three record labels that the band recorded for. Death released a total of five albums on Combat between ’87 and ’93 before jumping to Roadrunner Records for 1995′s “Symbolic.” The band’s most recent effort, “Sound of Perseverance,” was released on Nuclear Blast Records in 1998.

Schuldiner and Control Denied recorded their debut effort “The Fragile Art Of Existence”
last year and released the album in November on Nuclear Blast.