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'I felt that the nurses and technicians really cared about me'

Bolingbrook photographer John Randall is working, caring for his 8-year-old daughter and planning future mission trips thanks to a new chemotherapy treatment he received at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.


When Randall developed a thumb infection, the word cancer didn’t cross his mind. A month later, when his calf spontaneously bruised and swelled, Randall went to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital’s emergency room, fearing he had a blood clot.


Because his blood work was abnormal, Randall was hospitalized and endured five days of testing. He then heard the oft-repeated phrase, “I have good news and bad news.” The bad news was that Randall had leukemia. The good news was that he had hairy cell leukemia, completely treatable with 2-CDA.


Hairy cell leukemia is rare malignancy of the blood. Although it grows slowly, it causes the bone marrow to make too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Treatment consisted of a seven-day chemotherapy drip. His oncologist was Dr. Leela Rao.


Afterward, Randall spent nearly a month in the hospital to rejuvenate his immune system since the chemotherapy had depleted all his white blood cells. Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital’s staff made Randall’s time in isolation bearable.


“I felt that the nurses and technicians really cared about me,” Randall said. “Some of them even said they were praying for me. I was one of the lucky 85 percent of hairy cell leukemia patients who go into remission during the first month of treatment. There were just 10 days where I really felt sick.”


Randall and his wife, Christine, are now in the process of adopting a little girl from China. Christine will be going to Haiti in December to meet another little girl the Randalls hope to adopt. Randall himself plans to return to Haiti in 2011.


He is also raising funds for Haitian orphans through Randall Studio’s “Couch of Hope.” Families receive an heirloom portrait of their family on red couch in exchange for a tax deduction. The goal is to bring the couch to landmark locations for the photo shoots.


In the meantime, Randall Studio is participating in local ministry. Community Christian Church in Romeoville, where the Randalls worship, is transforming its basement to conduct a variety of extra-curricular, after-school activities with neighborhood youth. Randall, who works from home, will eventually move his studio into the new space to make it accessible to youth. He owes it all to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.


“I have a renewed sense of purpose to help others,” Randall said. “If I had been born in Haiti, I would be dead or dying. A lot of those kids are in that situation. They die from small things because they don’t have medicine and simple supplies. I realize how lucky I am and feel I should give back.”