Family and friends of Brian Snyder of Palmerton came together Tuesday to take part in a Miller-Keystone Blood Drive in honor of him. The blood drive was organized by his sister, Roseann Lesher, and was held at Country Inn and Suites, 1619 Interchange Road, Lehighton. Lesher and her husband, Fred, are owners of the hotel. More than 40 people took part in the drive.
His sister said that the Brian's illness has taken a toll on him and the entire family. Back in September, he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, Philamorphic Lipo Sarcoma, which is a cancer of the soft tissue.
She said Brian had a mass form on his thigh last summer, which grew rapidly.
His cancer was classified as high grade, meaning rapidly dividing and growing. This type of cancer spreads through the blood stream and also shows up in the lungs.
He began an intense chemotherapy regimen and has responded well to this point. His treatments are in Philadelphia at the University Of Pennsylvania Hospital. He will have his sixth and final round of chemotherapy treatments on Monday. The treatment lasts four hours a day for four days. During this time he remains in Philadelphia in the hospital.
There is a possibility of radiation and at some point the mass will be removed.
His sister said that with her brother's illness, the reality of a blood shortage has hit home, which is why she organized the blood drive.
For Ronald and Gail Strohl of Lehighton, it was another opportunity for them to do something to remember their son, Ronnie, who died 3-1/2 years ago due to suicide.
"We give blood as often as we can to keep his memory alive," said Mrs. Strohl. "Giving blood is one way to do something for others."
Brian's parents, Quint and Virgina Snyder of Palmerton, who are in their 80s were also resting comfortably in Miller-Keystone van seats as they were hooked up to give blood as first time donors.
"Brian has had a hard time with the chemotherapy," said his sister. "It wipes him out or he'd be here."
Brian is well known in the community as "Buster the Clown" where he delights children by making balloon sculptures at many local events, fairs and festivals.
Darlene Zehner of Lehighton was another first time blood donor. She said she realizes how important blood donation is because her son was in an accident in 1988 and used a lot of blood. She noted that she is also friends with Brian's wife at work.
"I wanted to give back," said Zehner. "That's why I'm here."