Letter from the Bishop of Fort Worth to his diocese
For the past two weeks, I have been undergoing medical tests to determine the cause of severe pain attacks I have experienced from time to time over the summer in my lower back and right shoulder. A soft tissue mass has been identified in my right chest wall, that needs to be removed. It is a rare type of sarcoma, thought to be malignant, that is large and aggressive and doesn’t respond well to chemotherapy.
After consultation with a specialist in this field at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Dr. Alexandra Callan, it has been determined that following a PET scan at the Moncrief Cancer Center here in Fort Worth, I will begin a series of radiation treatments in October. It will be done five days a week for about five weeks in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. After about five weeks to recover, I will have surgery in December or January to remove what remains of the growth. A recovery time of about six weeks is anticipated. During the radiation weeks, it is not anticipated that my regular pastoral duties or Sunday visitations will be affected, though I will need some time off after the surgery.
Though the long-term prognosis has yet to be defined, Dr. Callan sees no reason at this time why I should not be able to continue my episcopal ministry until my planned retirement on Dec. 31, 2019. God willing, things will proceed as planned in the process leading to the election of a Bishop Coadjutor on June 1, 2019.
Your prayers for Donna and me and our family will be very important in the months to come, and I am deeply grateful for your concern and support as we deal with this.
On my desk at home is a favorite Scripture verse, inscribed in marble from Philippians 4:13:
By God’s grace, it is true.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
September 12, 2018