Fashion Show Fundraiser
After two months of treatment for a cancerous brain tumor, good news came for the family of Steven Morales, a six-year-old boy from Beach 32 street in Far Rockaway. The tumor had finally stopped growing and was remaining stable, a sign that the alternative cancer fighting therapy offered in Houston, Texas by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski was helping the youngster.
Rockawayites first heard of Steven Morales when The Wave wrote a story (March 11, 2000) about his condition. Steven was diagnosed with a malignant and inoperable brain tumor in June 1998. Doctors told Francisco and Luz Morales, Steven’s parents, that the tumor, known as a Brainstem Glioma, occurred in one out of a million children and only 25 percent of patients diagnosed with the disease live for a year. After receiving direct radiation to the brainstem, Steven went into remission. In January 2000 the family received the unfortunate news that the tumor was expanding once again.
Steven started chemotherapy, but his condition worsened. Soon he was partially paralyzed on the right side of his body and the tumor was growing. At that time the family began to explore an experimental brain tumor therapy available in Texas. The Houston clinic was working with a nontoxic therapy for brain stem tumors known as antineoplastions that reverses the growth of cancer cells. The treatment is given intravenously through a portable infusion pump that delivers the medicine auto-matically six times daily.
After speaking with other parents who brought their children to the clinic and who are now cancer-free, Mr. and Mrs. Morales made a decision to take this path. The obstacle became money. Since the treatment is in the approval stages of the Federal Drug Administration, it is not yet covered by medical insurance. With a starting price of $15,000 and almost $7,000 for every treatment afterwards, the cost was a concern.
That is where Rockawayites come in. In just a few short months, since Steven’s story hit the newsstands, residents came together and raised approximately $19,000 for the family. With hotel, car rental and airplane costs covered by private corporations, the money raised went for the sole purpose of treatments.
Now going into his third month of treatment, Steven’s tumor remains stable and he is receiving physical therapy to rebuild strength in his right arm and leg. He also is being tutored at home after missing school for a few months. According to Dr. Burzynski, it takes about eight to 10 months to eliminate Steven’s type of tumor. In cases like Steven’s, where the tumor is inside the brainstem, there’s a failure rate of 33 percent.
Rockawayites are once again being called together to support Steven and his family. On Wednesday, July 12, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., a fashion show fundraiser will be held at The Beach Club, Beach 116 street. The evening will offer hors d’oeuvres, drinks, fashion show, DJ and entertainment. Ticket price is $20 and can be purchased at the door, although reservations are requested by contacting Wave Editor John McLoughlin at 718-634-4000.
The community’s response has been unbelievable and is the hope that Rockawayites, from all ends of the peninsula, will come out on July 12 to give Steven a chance at life.
Donations for those who cannot attend can be sent to Steven’s Choice, c/o Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, 361 Beach 42 Street, Far Rockaway, New York 11691.