Cancer is a battle many deal with and the family of Sheran Jones is no different.
Her daughter, son Larry II and husband Larry have all joined her battle in the roles of supporter, caregiver, transporter and just about every other role one could imagine.
For her daughter, Jennifer Ceron Alejando, her mother’s care has become as routine as the job she does cutting hair at Fantastic Sam’s in Dunn. Only it’s just a little more important.
“For my mom it all started in the year 2015,” Ms. Ceron Alejando said. “She started coughing and was coughing up a little blood. So she thought it was just her sinuses, but my dad told her whether or not it was, she was going to the doctor.”
In the closing stages of her daughter’s cosmetology training, her mother went to the doctor and a few weeks later was diagnosed with
small-cell carcinoma — a type of lung cancer — which immediately set into motion a chain of events which have led the family down an emotional and draining road.
“When they got the results back they told her there was something there,” Ms. Ceron Alejando said. “They didn’t know if it was shadow or scar tissue, but she needed to see a specialist.”
The specialist, Dr. Brian McNulty, immediately ordered rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. The cancer was inoperable where it sat in her lung so the family had little choice but to move forward.
“She had radiation and chemo every day for a month,” Ms. Ceron Alejando said. “Radiation was ever yday and chemo was three days a week. She was so sick and tired that she started losing weight, her taste buds were changing and making everything taste bad. Mother wasn’t the same.”
The side effects of the treatments were wearing on Mrs. Jones, literally from head to toe. Her feet, especially, were affected by neuropathy. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it leaves the patient with any number of conditions, pain, numbness, uncontrolled movement and sometimes itching.
“No one could touch her feet,” her daughter said. “Not even with a piece of string.”
Cancer can be one of the most frustrating, debilitating and unpredictable plaques of modern times. And in Mrs. Jones’ case it was no exception.
During her battle with small-cell carcinoma, tumors developed in both her breasts. Both were small and were operable, but it was another front for the family to battle.
“Around a month after her chemo and radiation ended, something told her to go get a mammogram, she hadn’t had one in over 10 years,” Ms. Ceron Alejando said. “So she made an appointment and the results came back that she had breast cancer.”
The family’s battles were hampered more by the re-occurance of the small-cell carcinoma. Chemo and radiation had caused it to go into remission, only to see it return, which meant more treatments.
As part of her treatment routine, Mrs. Jones regularly gets CT and PET scans. It was in the wake of treatment for the breast cancer when the small-cell carcinoma was re-discovered, twice.
After each breast cancer bout, testing revealed the lung cancer making another stand.
After trying different therapies, Dr. McNulty decided to go with immunotherapy, which was promising at the time and eventually led to Mrs. Jones becoming cancer free again.
“Immunotherapy was a lot different,” her daughter said. “It only took about 20 minutes to do instead of one to three hours and was one time every three weeks.”
Mrs. Jones did respond to the new therapy and the road to recovery appeared to be positive. Not so was the case, however, thanks to a dog’s toy she would find herself again in another battle.
This time it would be battling broken bones in her leg and wrist.
While picking up a toy left by one of the three family furbabies, Mrs. Jones stumbled and fell.
“At the hospital they did X-rays of her knee and wrist with the results being she broke her femur and her wrist was broken,” Ms. Ceron Alejano said. “They said she would need emergency surgery so we had her transferred to WakeMed.”
Following the surgery the family was again thrust into the role of caregivers and supporters. The required stay in a rehab facility, which is still ongoing, has led Mrs. Jones on a slow, long road to recovery.
For now, the family takes turns staying with Mrs. Jones at the facility. Even that has its discouragement because of family medical issues, travel and other related issues.
Ms. Ceron Alejando, her brother and father all have put aside their own battles to help her mother.
“I keep pushing,” Ms. Ceron Alejando said. “I work 34 to 36 hours a week and do everything I can to help my family.”
Because of the financial strain which often accompanies such a battle, the family will host a fundraiser barbecue chicken dinner at Kim’s BBQ in Dunn on Saturday.
The $6 meal will include chicken, potatoes, green beans and a roll and will take place from noon until the food runs out. For more information, contact Ms. Ceron Alejando at 910-260-0443.