Tools for Elul: John Spear

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In 2005, a tumor larger than a football was found attached to my kidney. They told me it spread into the renal vein. I went home and got better. I stopped doing consulting because I figured I was a goner. However, I continued to lead an active life. If not now, when?

In 2013, I was told I was home free. Cancer had been defeated. However, I began to have pain in my head. I bought a new pillow. It did not help. I began to have difficulty walking to the elevator and mailbox. I went to a Pirates game and asked why there were two second basemen and two full moons. There weren't.

A day later, I had an MRI of the brain and I was told I had 24 hours to live unless I had brain surgery to remove a kidney cancer tumor of the brain. I had the surgery and got better.

In 2014, kidney cancers of the chest were discovered and I had stereotactic radio surgery. In 2015, the cancer returned to the brain and I had gamma knife surgery. It worked. In 2017, my wife, Janet, of almost 55 years died. Janet had taken such good care of me that I survived. She did not.

The doctors began to notice tumors in my lung and reappearing in my chest. Biopsies were performed. The chest tumors were kidney cancer. The lung tumors were lung cancer. I began 8 months of immunology. It didn't work. Everything got bigger. I was put on a medication but it ruined my liver. I had to be off all medication for two months while the liver rejuvenated. In 2018, new kidney cancer tumors appeared in my adrenal gland. Then, I began a regimen of two chemotherapies for six months. I began to get sores in my mouth and throat. I lost 45 pounds because I could not chew. I had 11 laser treatments of the mouth. They did not work. I had 5 treatments of stereotactic radio surgery to reduce the renal gland tumors. The chemo was stopped to let the mouth heal. It got worse.

I began a dose of 50mg of prednisone that I am currently on. I have led a charmed life. I continue to do volunteer work at Hebrew Free Loan Association, Rodef Shalom, UJF, and Forward Shady Housing. I travel to friends and family. I am truly blessed. I am thankful for my friends.

I hope I can continue to contribute to my temple, my family and my friendships. I will be 81 next month but don't feel my age. I have a mission on Earth. If not now, when?

-John Spear, Congregant

Rodef Shalom