Randy Jones at the Making Cancer History® Seminar
Randy Jones, a Texas PGA professional, is the South Texas territory sales manager for Ingersoll Rand Club Car. Randy is a survivor of stage IV melanoma who underwent immunotherapy, chemotherapy and multiple surgeries at MD Anderson. He gives back to the institution as a member of the Advance Team advisory board and as a patient ambassador at PGA TOUR events to raise awareness of MD Anderson’s cancer prevention programs. He and his wife, Mackie, live in Richmond, Texas, with their three daughters. In July, Randy shared his cancer experience during MD Anderson’s inaugural Virtual Making Cancer History® Seminar, moderated by Karen Lu, M.D., chair of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine. The online program featured presentations by Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson; Nobel Laureate Jim Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology; and Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology.
There’s no doubt that I’m living proof of the impact MD Anderson is making for patients and their loved ones, thanks to the philanthropy of so many supporters across the world. It’s been almost 10 years since my diagnosis of melanoma, and I’m truly thankful for the care I’ve received at MD Anderson. It was an honor to be a part of the institution’s first-ever Virtual Making Cancer History Seminar this past summer, along with such incredible leaders in the global effort to end cancer, including Dr. Jim Allison, a pioneer in immunotherapy whose work earned him the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
At MD Anderson, you’ve got 22,000 people on your side, and I love them all. It’s a special place — you feel the love and compassion of everyone who works there. Take, for example, my oncologist, Dr. Adi Diab. A few years ago, my wife and I met with him toward the end of my treatment, and when the exam was over, he left, shut the door and suddenly opened it again and said, ‘Hey, I love you guys.’ Where else in the world besides MD Anderson do you hear something like that?
I was diagnosed with stage III melanoma following a visit to my dermatologist at the end of 2010. We lived in San Antonio at the time. After surgery, a sentinel node came back positive. That started the journey of traveling to MD Anderson in Houston for treatments. Dr. Jeffrey Gershenwald removed 22 lymph nodes during a groin dissection. One of them tested positive, and my MD Anderson team continued to watch me closely.
In January 2011, I learned the cancer had spread to my kidney and my brain. I started an immunotherapy clinical trial with ipilimumab and chemotherapy, and after about 10 weeks began an oral chemotherapy and had several surgeries: gamma knife radiation on the brain, cryoablation on a tumor near my kidney and the removal of tumors on my right kidney. Then I began about 2 1/2 years on pembrolizumab, another type of immunotherapy. I completed treatment in October 2017, and I’ve been free and clean since then. That’s almost 10 years as a survivor of melanoma. I’m super happy, and I get to watch my three beautiful girls grow. Life couldn’t be better.
I’ve gotten to meet Dr. Allison twice, at a meeting in San Antonio and at the 2017 World Series game in Houston. Both times, after I’ve thanked him for the work that ultimately led to my being cancer-free, I’ve seen a tear go down his face. If that doesn’t sum up the essence of MD Anderson and the passion everybody has there, I don’t know what does.
Watch the full video clip of Randy’s inspirational remarks below.