Hundreds of walkers, from brain aneurysm survivors to their families and supporters, are expected to attend Long Island’s 10th annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk at Jones Beach State Park on Saturday, September 22. The fun-filled event, which includes a four-mile run and two-mile walk, is hosted by the Brain Aneurysm Center at Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute, along with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF). Proceeds will benefit both organizations, raising funds to support essential research.
“This is a very special year for us, celebrating the walk’s 10-year anniversary,” said David Chalif, MD, director of Northwell Health’s Brain Aneurysm Center. “The walk has grown steadily each year and has raised more than $615,000 over the course of its history thanks to hundreds of participants.”
One of the goals of this annual event is to increase awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm. The symptoms can include severe headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, stiff neck or neck pain, pain above or behind the eye and loss of sensation.
The walk will feature two survivors from Long Island – retired FDNY firefighter Steve Calzolano, 59, of Levittown, and Tricia Mallardi, 55, of Oyster Bay – who will share their journey from discovery and diagnosis to recovery.
Last October, Mr. Calzolano nearly fell off a ladder while cleaning the gutters at his house. Although lightheaded, Mr. Calzolano’s wife and neighbor kept him from a serious spill and called 911. Mr. Calzolano was taken to Plainview Hospital, where a computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a ruptured brain aneurysm. He was immediately transferred to North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in Manhasset for life-saving treatment.
“It was the worst headache of my life,” said Mr. Calzolano. This is one of the tell-tale signs of a brain aneurysm.
Dr. Chalif performed a craniotomy and then clipped the aneurysm, cutting off blood flow to the artery. Clipping a brain aneurysm is a surgical procedure performed on both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. The neurosurgeon works through a small opening in the skull, and once the aneurysm is located with the operating microscope, the neurosurgeon eliminates blood flow by placing a clip across the aneurysm’s base – allowing blood to flow normally elsewhere in the brain.
Mr. Calzolano has no neurological deficits from the surgery. He retired from the FDNY this past May and is looking forward to new adventures to pursue his twin passions – boating and golfing.
In January, Ms. Mallardi was in the car with her husband when she suddenly felt a shooting pain like a “lightening bolt” around the back of her head. The pressure and pain grew progressively worse and her husband decided to take her to NSUH. A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) revealed a brain aneurysm. Ms. Mallardi was a good candidate to receive an endovascular treatment with coils and a stent – another, more minimally invasive procedure to treat the brain aneurysm.
Ms. Mallardi underwent an endovascular coiling and stenting procedure performed by NSUH’s endovascular team. Coiling a brain aneurysm requires the insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery in the leg, which is then navigated through the blood vessels into the brain where the aneurysm is located. Soft platinum coils and a stent are inserted through the catheter and deployed in the aneurysm. The coils conform to the shape of the aneurysm, fill the sac and block blood flow to the aneurysm to prevent the artery from rupturing.
“You have to be thankful for every day because you don’t know what your next day will bring,” said Ms. Mallardi. “If you think there is something going wrong with your body, it is important to get it checked out.”
“Due to the decisive actions of Mr.Calzolano’s neighbor and Ms. Mallardi’s husband seeking immediate medical attention, their lives were saved,” said Dr. Chalif. “By sharing their stories at our walk this year, they will undoubtedly help us spread awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm. We are extremely grateful to both of them and they should be commended for their extraordinary courage and strength.”
Registration for the walk begins at 8:30 a.m. at Jones Beach State Park, Field 5, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, NY. The start time is 10 a.m. and the event will be held rain or shine. The registration fee is $25 through September 9, $30 afterward. Entry fee includes the cost of parking and snacks. T-shirts will be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. To pre-register for the walk, click here.
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About Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute
Northwell Health’s Neuroscience Institute is a large and comprehensive team of professionals that provide neurosurgery and neurology services across the Greater New York region – from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Suffolk County. Our physicians cover all subspecialties within the neurosciences, accept most insurance plans and pride themselves in providing excellent and ethical care. For more information, click here.