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.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
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Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seenh on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage
Snuggle worthy wear
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Louisiana's Republican governor has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally using federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Newly established honor recognizes outstanding local attorneys; Neuner and McGoffin win President's Award; and Blanchard named Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Daily paper constructing new digs near production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near I-10.