Weekender

Local bands will rock The Bar to raise money for State College mom with brain tumor

Local mom Jen Spearly has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her tumor removal surgery. A benefit show on Friday at The Bar is being held for the cause.
Local mom Jen Spearly has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her tumor removal surgery. A benefit show on Friday at The Bar is being held for the cause. Photo provided

The Bar — located in Boalsburg — has long been a special place for music lovers in Centre County.

Yes, smoking is allowed in the The Bar, thanks to an exemption in the Pennsylvania smoking ban, but for all the negativity such a loophole might muster, The Bar is an exceedingly positive place.

There might not be a better music venue south of Penns Valley, and now philanthropy is on the long list of awesome things The Bar can list on its resume. On Friday, it will host a show to raise money for Jen Spearly, a State College area resident and single mom who is suffering from a pineal brain tumor.

“It’s in the middle of my brain, and neurosurgeons are scared to operate on it, and, in fact most neurosurgeons are still being taught that this specific tumor is a-symptomatic, and incidental,” Spearly said.

Since the science on incidental brain tumors is in its infancy, surgeons are still sorting out if and when to recommend surgery.

“They found mine because I was having nonstop headaches,” Spearly said. “(I) went into the ER, had a MRI, and there it was. So, it’s not incidental. But, I’ve had neck problems. ...I had neck surgery because they thought that would help with the headaches. But, with them going in and messing with my spine, it changed the pressure in my head, which made the headache worse.”

When a tumor is labeled incidental, it means doctors think isn’t going to continue to be a problem, or at least that it’s not going to become more problematic. Therefore it is not common to get a recommendation for surgery. That means insurance companies won’t foot the bill, which means the person who continues to suffer from the symptoms has to decide whether to have the surgery and pay out of pocket.

Even if the sufferer chooses to have the surgery, finding a surgeon to do it can also be difficult.

“My neurosurgeon that I see who did the neck surgery won’t do the tumor surgery,” Spearly said. “There is nobody local, in the state, who does this. The doctor who I’m going to see is in Houston, Texas, and he’s considered the No. 1 surgeon for this tumor. I’m in a Facebook group for people who have this tumor and the majority of them go to see Dr. Kim, whether they’re from Europe or Canada.”

To help Spearly raise money, local bands Phobos Anomaly, GoatSmoker and my personal favorite, Obvious Pocket, will be rocking The Bar. All proceeds will go to Spearly, who still has tens of thousands of dollars to raise for the surgery, which must be paid up front.

“It was a collaboration between me and Alex and Chyers from The Bar,” Spearly said. “I’m fairly good friends with them, and so I asked Chyers if it would be possible to hold a fundraiser, and this day works for everyone. So, we have these three bands, so it should hopefully be a big turnout.”

To help out with the fundraising, Spearly also created a GoFundMe page, which can be found at www.gofundme.com/ jenniferspearly, but Friday’s event is the one of the first steps in boosting the efforts of the campaign, and Spearly says she could not have done it without her friends at The Bar.

“Thank you,” Spearly said, in honor of her friends at The Bar who are helping her organize the event. “Thank you for letting me do this. Alex and Chyers have been with me since the idea popped in my head.”

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail .com.

IF YOU GO

▪ What: Fundraiser show for Jen Spearly

▪ When: 7 p.m. Friday

▪ Where: The Bar, 306 Boal Ave., Boalsburg

▪ Info: 466-2260, www.gofundme.com/jenniferspearly

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