Changing our lives for the better

Just like anyone who faces cancer, Robert Jones didn’t see it coming. He hadn’t been feeling bad or struggling with any health issues in particular. Then one day it was there — problems with digestion and colon.

He was just past 50 years old in 2004 when he decided he’d better have that colonoscopy that is suggested by all doctors at 50 years old.  As soon as he had the colonoscopy the doctor let him know, Jones remembered, “It doesn’t look good is what the doctor told me.”

Jones was told that he had a tumor the size of a lemon and not even given a 50 to 60 percent chance to survive. He and his wife of more than 40 years, Cathy, were shocked but he didn’t panic. Jones reacted to the news with the calmest question of “what do we have to do to get this?” he remembers.

The first operation took two and a half feet of colon out and he spent a week in the hospital. He said, “But we got the cancer out.” They took 14 lymph nodes, seven of them positive with cancer at the Virginia Cancer Clinic/Henrico Doctors in Henrico, Virginia.

Because of the high number of cancerous lymph nodes, Jones was put on the regimen for double treatments — double chemo, something done very successfully in Europe. The double treatments consist of one treatment done in the office and one with a nurse — this was done every other week for six months. His doctor said this was an aggressive approach to this cancer.

“I was Stage 4,” Jones recounts, “About the worse you can get.”  But due to the aggressive treatment and what Jones calls “the best docs around” he got better.

For most cancer patients the magic number is five years. If a patient is cancer free for five years they’ve cleared a huge hurdle in the battle.

Jones was clear for many years and rejoiced in his good health and his good fortune not to see more cancer; until 2010, that is.

The doctors found a spot on his liver and it had metastasized in his liver. So, they looked at it and they decided to watch the spot to see if it grew. A CAT scan showed the spot was growing. This time his excellent surgeons, Dr. McFarlane and Dr. Menendez, were there to see him through it.  

All in all, Jones survived eight surgeries in nine years. April, 2012 marked the “first anniversary of starting over,” he said smiling.

What has he learned from it all? “I have learned to keep the faith,” Jones shared, “You’ve got to believe in the man above.”  He credits his “wonderful family — his loving wife Cathy and his three children.” He added, “I have so much.”

And surviving as he has, he just wants to give back for all that has been bestowed upon him. “I feel like I’m gonna’ be here a while and I want to do some things and give back,” he said.  Jones said he had wonderful doctors and nurses aiding his recovery, and especially wants to thank Dr. Joshua McFarlane, Dr. Gilberto Menendez and Dr. David Trent for all their efforts.

He’d like to do something to help veterans as his way of giving back — his dream includes a fishing and hunting spot where disabled veterans can come and enjoy nature and have a refuge. “They have done so much to ensure our freedom,” Jones said. He asks that if anyone is interested in the project, because he could use the help, to contact him at rcjones1@verizon.net.

His wife said it is her intention for her husband to be around for many more years. Now permanently on disability, he fills his time with dreams of tractor riding, an aspiration he has, and helping others through speaking engagements and anything positive he can do. “Can’t let it get you down,” Cathy shared. “Staying positive is the biggest part of the battle.” Jones added, “Keep the mind straight and don’t let the C word get to you…it’s not the end of the world.”

Robert Jones is evidence of that.

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