When he was a child, Randy LeBlanc discovered a bump on his forearm. He ignored it at first, but it grew a bit and became more irritating. Randy was diagnosed with eccrine carcinoma, a rare cancer of the sweat glands. Doctors removed the tumor and told him to be vigilant and constantly check for new lumps so they could hopefully thwart any return of the cancer.
For decades, Randy lived a rich life free of illness. He got married and had three sons and four grandchildren. He was general manager for Atlas Feed Mills in Breaux Bridge for more than 30 years, and he loved watching the New Orleans Saints and television cooking shows. A deeply religious man, Randy also became a deacon at St. Peter Catholic Church in Carencro.
It was August 2005 when he told his wife Sonya that he’d discovered a lump on his underarm. Randy underwent chemotherapy and treatment, but by summer 2007, the cancer had spread to his bones and couldn’t be stopped.
For the final chapter of his life, Randy wanted to be at home, surrounded by his family and friends. As part of that decision, he chose to use Hospice of Acadiana, the Lafayette nonprofit organization that provides care and support to patients with terminal illness and their families. (For more about Randy LeBlanc and Hospice of Acadiana, see “Leadoff” on P. 4.)
Randy also hoped that he could use his experience and help other individuals and families facing the same situation. For that reason, he and his wife Sonya opened their lives and home to Independent Weekly photographer Terri Fensel, allowing Fensel to spend time with them and photograph Randy on multiple occasions beginning in November 2007.
We are grateful to Randy and Sonya LeBlanc for their courage and for trusting us to tell one small part of their life story. — Scott Jordan, editor
Randy and Sonya LeBlanc in their living room. The luggage nearby was for an upcoming vacation; while Randy knew the trip would be difficult and could make him weaker, he refused to cancel the couple's long-planned getaway and brought extra medication with him on the trip.
Nov. 15, 1:57 p.m.
Hospice of Acadiana nurse Jill Cranfill (left) and Dr. Shirley Covington consult with Randy during a home visit.
Nov. 15, 2:21 p.m.
Nov. 6, 12:17 p.m.
Randy talks on the phone with his mother.
Nov. 6, 12:27 p.m.
To combat his cancer and the pain it caused, Randy took a regimen of medication.
Nov. 15, 2:34 p.m.
At Randy's request, Sonya searches for one of her husband's favorite Bibles.
Jan. 16, 3:56 p.m.
Randy, surrounded by the comforts of home
Jan. 16, 5:07 p.m.
Sonya kisses her husband before she leaves to work a shift as a volunteer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette.
Jan. 31, 5:52 p.m.
Feb. 22, 3:44 p.m.
Sonya receives a hug as friends and family remember and honor Randy at his funeral.
Feb. 22, 3:57 p.m.
"Death is not an easy thing to understand," Sonya says. "The people who are dying struggle, and the people losing that person are struggling. Any time people needed help, Randy was there, and if sharing his experience would help others, he wanted to do it. Randy taught a lot of people a lot about dying."
Feb. 22, 3:48 p.m.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.