Chuck Schuldiner's cancer process

In May 1999, Schuldiner experienced pain in his upper neck, which he initially thought was a pinched nerve.

He consulted with a chiropractor followed by a massage therapist/acupuncturist who recommended an MRI Exam. Upon having an MRI, it was discovered that the pinched nerve was being caused by a tumor. On his 32nd birthday, May 13, 1999, Schuldiner was diagnosed with a high-grade pontine glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer that invades the brain stem, and immediately underwent radiation therapy.

In October 1999, Schuldiner’s family announced that the tumor had necrotized and that he was on the way to recovery. In January 2000, Schuldiner underwent surgery to remove what remained of his tumor. The operation was a success. However, the Schuldiner family was struggling financially. The total costs of the operations came to $70,000, a price the Schuldiner family could not afford. Many fundraisers, auctions, and benefit concerts took place to help cover the costs. The money began to come in as the metal community, in total shock, realized that Schuldiner's life was in danger. The metal community and the Schuldiner family showed deep concern because Schuldiner could have lost his life due to lack of funds.

Schuldiner continued to work on his music, continuing his work with Control Denied. About two years after his original diagnosis, in May 2001, the cancer returned and Schuldiner fell ill again. He was originally denied surgery (which he needed immediately) due to lack of funds. A press release called for support from everyone, including fellow artists. Jane Schuldiner urged all who read the statements about Schuldiner and his illness to go out and get insurance, stating her frustration in the American system. Schuldiner had gotten medical insurance after his first surgery, but the insurer had refused to pay because the tumor existed before he had gotten the insurance. Many artists, including Kid Rock, Korn and Red Hot Chili Peppers, got together during the summer of 2001 to auction off personal items with the funds assisting Schuldiner's medical expenses, an effort covered by MTV. Matt Heafy, vocalist and guitarist for Trivium has also stated that the band had played a benefit show for Schuldiner while he was in the hospital in their days as a local band. Schuldiner received a chemotherapy drug called vincristine to help with his therapy. Like most drugs used in the treatment of cancer, the side effects were harsh and weakened Schuldiner greatly. In late October/early November, Schuldiner became ill with pneumonia.

Schuldiner died on December 13, 2001, at approximately 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. He was cremated and MTV reported that recording artists, including Mike Patton, Dimebag Darrell, Glen Benton, King Diamond, Ville Valo, Trey Azagthoth and Max Cavalera, along with all of the former and active members of Death, attended his memorial service.