Respect is the word that comes to mind to describe Franz Randolph (Randy) Jones' battle with Leukemia.
Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B-Cell ALL) in late 2019, Randy immediately began to put up a fight befitting of a true champion. As anyone who has experienced this battle knows it is not easy. Randy met the chemotherapy challenge head on. He complied with every demand of the rigorous regiment. Not a fan of needles, he endured the constant barrage of labs and treatments. It was not easy, but his compliance was nothing short of heroic. To add to this regiment, he met with the team at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center to discuss the benefits of a Stem Cell transplant to compliment the success of his chemotherapy treatment. The team didn't pull any punches and laid out not only the benefits, but also the risks and complications possible with the transplant.
Upon successful completion of his initial chemotherapy treatment, Randy opted to undergo the Stem Cell Transplant at the VCU Medical Center. It was not an easy choice, but for Randy, any opportunity to succeed with his battle and enhance the chances for the best life with his family and friends was worth the fight. Again, he met this challenge head on and with enormous courage, complying with every demand of the transplant clinic team. This included moving to within 30 minutes of the VCU Massey Cancer Center, in Richmond VA, for up to 6 months. Fortunately, "The Doorways" https://www.thedoorways.org provided the lodging and accommodations only 5 blocks from the clinic to make this possible.
There were no compatible stem cell donors in his immediate family, but thankfully an anonymous donor match was determined quickly. It is with our great appreciation, that this donor was willing to help him. Thank God for not only the donors world-wide, but also for the database that makes identification possible.
Randy's tranplant went well following the minor inconveniences expected with the initial high dose chemotherapy. Again, Randy's fight was indicative of a true champion. He met all of the demands of the transplant team. The exhausting schedule of hours long, near daily clinic visits. The battle to eat. The isolation complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. All one punch at a time. Just another set of glancing blows met with a "rope-a-dope" defense reminiscent of Muhammad Ali against George Foreman. Randy was also fully engaged in his treatment. He double checked his care givers every time they administered medication. He kept detailed notes of his vital signs, medication schedule, and related information.
A little over three months into his transplant Randy experienced weakness, a lack of appetite, and difficulty breathing. In his weakened state, he also fell and fractured his femur. He was admitted to VCU and diagnosed with double pneumonia. All of this started to prove difficult for our champion. He admittedly did not feel well. His pneumonia worsened and he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and placed on a regiment of forced oxygen via a BiPAP machine. There was evidence of bacterial and fungal infections in his lung. The doctors also suspected Graft verus Host Disease (GvHD). In an attempt to reduce the stress on his lungs and heart, Randy agreed to a limited term of ventilator support. After 5 days on the ventilator, his kidneys began to fail. He had given express instructions not to pursue dialysis prior to being placed on the ventilator. With all options exhausted, ventilator support was withdrawn on Sunday, October 11, 2020. Within minutes our beloved hero gave up his fight in the presence of family. Randy's body was donated to the advancement of science.
Through this entire ordeal, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provided invaluable support. Their help has been financial, informational, and emotional in nature. It was Randy's wish, and remains the wishes of his family and loved ones, that expressions of sympathy not be made with perishable goods, but instead be made to help the fight against this disease. Please help us pay it forward and help others in their fight. We remain in this together.