The seder-night operation that risks a man’s life

By Candice Krieger, April 17, 2008

Accountant Jason Boas would do anything to be having seder night at home with his family tomorrow night.

Instead, the 34-year-old will be undergoing a potentially life-saving operation to remove a tumour from his pancreas. But doctors have warned him there is a 15 per cent chance he will not survive it.

Mr Boas, of Mill Hill, North-West London, was diagnosed in October, after collapsing with stomach pains. He was told the tumour was inoperable and given 18 months to live.

But he endured six months of aggressive chemotherapy, and the tumour shrank to an operable size.

Speaking from his bed at University College Hospital in London, he told the JC: “I am petrified. I am scared to find out if the cancer has spread. The scans show that is hasn’t, but we won’t really know until the operation. It’s 50-50.”

He has lost two stones as a result of the chemotherapy and his hair has thinned.

But Mr Boas, who works for Harris & Trotter in New Cavendish Street, London, is determined to stay positive. He joked: “I won’t be having Seder night this year, but I will be chametz-free, as I am not allowed to eat beforehand.”

Since the diagnosis, he has been working to help others in similar situations, raising £70,000 through No Surrender, a charitable trust he set up.

He has also been keeping a video diary of his progress on YouTube. “When I was diagnosed, I realised there was no separate support system to help young adults with cancer. People don’t think young people can get it,” he said. “There are no places where you can go to meet fellow sufferers who are going through the same emotional turmoil — such as the fear of your parents burying you, the fact that your career is on hold before you have even begun, and the fact that relationships are strained or not practical to forge.”

Mr Boas, a member of Cockfosters and North Southgate synagogue, knows that he is a rare carrier of the disease. In every 200,000 suffers, only one under the age of 50 will get it.

“There was more chance of me winning the lottery,” he says.

His plight has attracted a lot of interest. His video diary is watched by around 1,500 people a week and he has caught the eye of those he most admires. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger invited him to visit his favourite team’s training ground last year and his idol, Bruce Springsteen, brought him backstage after his concert at the London O2 arena.

    Last updated: 4:07pm, May 13 2008