Randy’s Last Wishes Are Being Fulfilled by Heather Ziegler, August 11, 2019, The Intelligencer, Wheeling News-Register
Grief ought to be a four-letter word. It’s just as obscene as any curse word. Ask any parent who has lost a child, especially after his or her child experienced a grueling fight with a childhood cancer — and lost. Liz and Randy Stephens of Warwood know all too well what a family goes through when a child is victimized by a cancer that robs all involved of comfort, sustained joy and time.
The Stephenses lost their son Randy in 2013 to Ewing’s sarcoma. He was 18. Ewing’s sarcoma is a very rare type of cancerous tumor that grows in bones or the soft tissue around bones, such as cartilage or the nerves. It usually affects people from the ages of 10 to 20 and affects about 200 children and young adults every year in the United States and shows up slightly more often in males, according to WebMD.
Randy’s battle with the disease began when he was 15 and a freshman at Wheeling Park High School. He was an active teen, good student and a beloved member of the school’s golf team. That all ended when the cancer challenged Randy to fight each day as new aspects of the disease swept through his body.
“Randy was able to go back to school for a short time in the 11th grade, but that was it,” said his father. “In the four years of high school he probably only went for about six months.”
However, the impact the young man had on those who knew him continues today. Especially within his family, which carries on his wishes that they help other families who are going through battles with childhood cancer.
Now in its fifth year, the Randy Stephens Jr. Memorial Golf Scramble was created to provide a WPHS golf team member with a scholarship for higher education and to fulfill one of Randy’s final wishes.
This year’s scramble is set for Saturday, Aug. 17 at Fairway River Links (formerly Mazeroski’s) in Rayland. A shotgun start is scheduled for 7 a.m. Call 304-277-1352 for more information or to enter.
Randy’s mother explained the reason for the golf event. “‘Ran’ was selfless. He was always thinking about us and what we were going through. Throughout our battle, our family was provided with love, support and compassion from so many, near and far. Randy was always touched by every act of kindness that carried our family through.”
One day in 2012, a woman knocked on the Stephenses’ front door. When Randy answered, he found a mother who had recently lost her son to an unexpected tragedy. She handed Randy an envelope that contained a collection of money from her family to help Randy and his family. Randy was overwhelmed by this act of kindness and told his parents, “Oh no, they don’t need to do this. They are going through so much themselves.”
“Randy’s faith taught him the value of that gift — for someone to be able to give and help others when they are suffering the most,” Liz said. “Our family now finds ourselves in that position — through our pain, we work to give support and love to others who fight childhood cancer.”
It was Randy’s wish that his family pay it forward and help others. The golf scramble is just a part of that help. Throughout Randy’s treatment at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, the Stephenses met many other children and parents experiencing the same battle.
With money raised through the golf tournament and from their own checkbook, the Stephenses have helped other families by providing them with gift cards and gas cards to offset some of the expenses when traveling to and from treatment. They even sponsor a pizza party every Fourth of July at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for the families and staff.
“People don’t understand that childhood cancer is not treated here. You have to go to Pittsburgh or Morgantown or other places,” Liz said.
Randy Sr. said they spent several Fourth of July holidays in the hospital while the rest of the country was enjoying picnics and fireworks outside.
The pizza party allows children and families in treatment at the hospital to have a festive celebration of their own on the holiday.
The Stephenses said cancer research focuses on adult cancers and treatment is usually adult-based. The doctors have to figure out how to treat children with cancer based on adult cancer research. And much of that protocol has not changed in decades, Liz noted.
“Everything we protected Randy with was destroyed by the cancer and the treatment,” his mother said.
With Ewing’s sarcoma, treatment can be brutal, Randy Sr. said. Children can lose their hearing and experience bone loss. During Randy’s final days, he suffered a stroke and could only communicate through gestures.
“People don’t understand … the child goes through depression, to dark places. They come to terms with it in a very quiet way. Randy went from 15 to adulthood overnight,” Randy Sr. said. “There are a lot of kids going through the same thing without any fanfare. They need help but most of all, they need prayers.”
Some parents have lost jobs and benefits as they struggle to keep up with their child’s illness and treatment. Offering meals, gift cards, gas money and much needed hugs are some of the ways anyone can help in these situations, the Stephenses commented.
The Stephens family also includes a daughter, Leigh Ann, a speech pathologist. She and her brother were very close, like a second mother, their parents remarked.
“Randy told Leigh Ann to make sure that she makes people laugh at his funeral,” Liz said. “Randy knew how hard this was for us. I told him it’s the price you pay for deep love. It hurts.”
Refer also to:
More than 100 orgs, 800 individuals push PA Gov. Tom Wolf to probe link between frac’ing and proliferation of childhood cancers; Ewing Sarcoma Presentation by Raina Rippel
The Human Toll, Part 2: Industry says otherwise, but studies identify specific harms that shale-gas pollution can cause for fetuses, newborns, children and teenagers
Compendium 6: Review by doctors & scientists of more than 1,700 references conclude frac industry poses threat to air, water, climate and human health
Compendium 5: ‘The Harms of Fracking’: New Report Details Increased Risks of Asthma, Birth Defects and Cancer. Dr. Sandra Steingraber: “Fracking is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” Dr. Pouné Saberi: “There is a code of silence….” Workers rarely report injuries or hazards, for fear of losing their jobs.
Environmental causes of childhood cancers ‘grossly underestimated.’ In Canada, toxic chemicals used by oil and gas industry are exempt under CEPA (1999)
New Study Confirms Fracking Wastewater Is Cancer-Causing. “Barium and Strontium were elevated in frac flowback water exposed cells.” Encana and Alberta government testing showed barium & strontium doubled in Ernst’s water after Encana’s illegal aquifer fracing
Bravo! Prevent Cancer Now calls out AER’s Health Fraud! “The AER has no jurisdiction for human health, and Alberta is famed for a chill against the medical community linking ill health to petrochemicals.”
“What is the acceptable risk for increased risk for childhood cancer? It’s zero.” & Open Letter by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment to NB Premier Gallant: Termination of Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health, a concern
Pennsylvania Study Links Fracking to Health Hazards in Fetuses, Infants, Young Children: 35.1% more cancer in children ages zero to four in heavily frac’d counties.
Study: Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens at Levels Far Exceeding Federal Limits Near Frac Sites, Will almost certainly lead to cancer increase in surrounding areas
“It looks like fracking has unearthed an unbargained for and serious cancer risk in peoples’ homes.” John Hopkins study links radon levels in Pennsylvania homes to fracking: “These findings worry us”
Yale School of Public Health: Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals; Pennsylvanians Against Fracking Call on Governor Wolf to Implement Statewide Moratorium on Fracking
Elevated Cancer risks surround oil & gas drilling. Fracking is bad for your health says Israel Health Ministry official; Frac flowback stage causes greatest air pollution
Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in ground and surface water at fracking sites, Peer reviewed study of fracking sites in Garfield County Colorado finds chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer
New peer-reviewed, published study by Lisa McKenzie et al, U Colorado School of Public Health: Childhood cancer linked to nearby oil and gas activity; People ages 5-24 diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia more likely to live in areas with a high concentration of oil and gas activity
Why was a 2012 Health Canada Report, admitting significant health hazards and risks to groundwater and air from hydraulic fracturing, kept from the public?
Why so much frac fraud? Why is Health Canada hiding frac hazards to drinking water? Why publicly release pathogen harms, but not frac hazards and harms?
Health Canda wants “expanded powers” to strengthen regulation of natural health products but not toxic frac chemicals – not even to make companies disclose their secret frac brews to families breathing them! Not even to disclose Health Canada’s own frac health hazard report!
Several families taking Baytex (Alberta oilsands company) to court over toxic emissions; Buyout packages allegedly silence Albertans struck with industry-related cancer
Fort Chipewyan rare cancer cases cry out for study; Fort Chipewyan councillor latest resident diagnosed with rare cancer, ‘How can this keep happening?’
Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta; Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers, Sickening carcinogens now saturate Industrial Heartland, study finds
Frac Company Trican Donates $5 Million to Fight Childhood Cancer
Overview of International Human Rights Court Recommending Worldwide Frac Ban