Unfortunately, by December 2005 the tumor had entered the left side of Chris’ brain. He immediately began more systemic chemotherapy, much of it necessitating in-patient hospital admission. The chemotherapy reduced the lesions in his brain, but by March 2006 the tumor had spread to his spine and Chris returned home under hospice care. Chris passed away peacefully at home on the morning of April 7, 2006.
Chris experienced a course of treatment and a progression of illness that is similar to that of other cancer patients. The various regimens of chemotherapy were partially effective, but chemotherapy is often limited by the body’s ability to tolerate the accompanying side effects. The dilemma is how to deliver a beneficial chemotherapy drug directly to the cancer site while not affecting the surrounding tissue, especially cells that multiply rapidly such as bone marrow, platelets and hair follicles.
Physicians and scientists are actively testing new, more effective treatments for angiosarcomas and other cancers. Chris’ family and friends created the Christopher Steele Foundation shortly after Chris’ passing to raise funding for this research. Much of their generosity has been directed toward the research of Mark Agulnik, MD, on drug therapies for advanced or metastatic sarcomas.
Tom and Ellen Steele, Chris’ parents, said, “Chris received wonderful care at NMH. Dr. Agulnik, his staff and the entire NMH organization continue to seek innovative solutions to the rare cancer that afflicted Chris. We hope that the Christopher Steele Foundation can contribute to that effort in Chris' memory.”
In addition to their donations to research, the foundation provides partial college scholarships for promising local high school athletes and also has donated to programs which provide support for the families of patients. To date, the foundation has donated a total of $72,500 to Northwestern Memorial, which was raised through events such as golf and bowling outings as well as a new baseball-related event called A Game for Chris.
The foundation that carries Chris’ name gives him the following tribute on their website:
“Chris truly cared about people and expected the same in return. Throughout his long illness, he was more concerned about the people supporting him than he was about himself. Even though Chris is no longer physically with us, the essence of Chris will live on through the Christopher Steele Foundation. The Foundation, through the support it will provide cancer researchers and organizations that assist cancer patients and their families, will be a true reflection of the essence of the Chris we so love.”