Friday, April 9, 2010

Chase Jones UNC Leader

Here is an article I read in the newspaper:

Chapel Hill Herald (NC)

March 31, 2010

Cancer survivor inspires team
Teddy Mitrosilis

CHAPEL HILL -- A large gong rests in a special room at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. For many kids, it's a symbol of triumph and victory. Others aren't so lucky. After six long months of hospital beds, IV drips and doctors' orders, Chase Jones hit the heck out of that gong.

Growing up in Greensboro, Jones never imagined this would be his path. No child would ever choose this.

Jones quickly learned how to live life with a positive attitude and relentless spirit. He had no other choice. Fight or quit.

Jones always had lofty aspirations. As a kid, he wanted to attend Stanford or Harvard. When neither school accepted him, Jones became a Tar Heel.

He enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill as a freshman in fall 2006. With limited baseball abilities but with an intense love for the game, Jones asked head coach Mike Fox what he could do to help the baseball program.

Jones soon began helping the equipment manager wash towels, sort uniforms and complete other chores around the clubhouse.

But then the intense headaches and nausea began. Repeated trips to Campus Health Services failed to rectify the problem. When Jones could barely see light without his head beginning to throb, doctors ordered a CT scan. The results led to an intensive MRI, a medical imaging technique used to see the detailed internal structure of the body.

Sitting in a wheelchair on Oct. 4, 2006, Jones learned he had a malignant germinoma brain tumor, or, simply, brain cancer.

"I was actually more relieved than anything just to know what was finally wrong with me," Jones said. "But my mom was freaking out because my grandfather passed away from brain cancer."

The next day Jones laid in a bed at UNC Hospitals after undergoing emergency brain surgery. He remembers seeing his family after surgery, but he didn't know where he was or what happened.

"Within 24 hours, I went from normal college kid studying for an economics exam to brain tumor patient," Jones said. "Reality set in when I met Dr. Gold after surgery to discuss a plan for chemotherapy."

Doctors went through the top of Jones' skull to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball from the top of his spinal chord. The tumor prevented fluid from circulating around the spine and instead directed it upward into Jones' brain.

"There was no way around the surgery," Jones said. "Without it, I would have died."

Jones remained in the ICU for six days before being released. After a few days at home, the chemotherapy sessions began. Jones underwent four total chemotherapy treatments with the final one coming just before Christmas.

"The toughest thing was seeing kids and babies hooked up to IV's," Jones said. "I actually felt fortunate that I was given 18 normal years to live, because that is something many kids never get."

Jones still had doubts.

"There were plenty of times I wanted to give up," Jones said, hunched over a cheeseburger. "But I always knew I would get through it, and most of that is due to my family, faith and unbelievable support."

In January 2007, an MRI revealed that the tumor had vanished, but one more step on the road to recovery remained.

Jones spent a month in Houston receiving radiation treatment to prevent the tumor from returning. The radiation hit Jones' body harder than the chemotherapy, and the days became monotonous.

Every day at 3 p.m., Jones received his treatment. The schedule never changed.

Away from Carolina on a medical leave, Jones took two online courses to try to keep up with his work and feel some semblance of being a college student.

The rest of the day consisted of movies and naps to replenish his radiation-stricken body. When dinner came, Jones found it difficult to muster enough energy to eat.

In March 2007, doctors told Jones he had fully healed and could return to his halted life in Chapel Hill.

Because he had kicked the tumor and beat cancer, Jones got to ring the gong. The gong symbolized completeness.

Jones returned to Carolina in time for most of the baseball season, but equipment managers remain behind the scenes. They wash the uniforms, not wear them.

Two years later, as a bullpen catcher for the Tar Heels, Jones had a uniform. For the first time, he experienced the thrill of wearing "Carolina" across his chest.

"I remember thinking everything that I had gone through was finally over," Jones said. "Putting on the uniform was a dream come true, and I had cold chills during the national anthem."

Jones would never admit it, but he has had a deep impact on his teammates.

"Chase has truly been an inspiration to myself and the whole team," pitcher Colin Bates said. "His positive attitude is contagious and I am grateful that he is part of our team."

Since fighting brain cancer, Jones realized his opportunity and the impact he can have on others.

"I've been given a great opportunity to help others, and that is the most satisfying thing," Jones said. "Maybe I'm not an inspiration, but other kids can look at me and say, 'If he beat it, so can I.'"

Jones works with numerous organizations. In January he became one of two juniors to receive the Eve Marie Carson Scholarships.

Carolina Dreams connects kids from the hospital with UNC athletes by bringing the kids to games. Jones began as an outreach leader with Carolina Dreams in 2008, and he will head the program in 2010.

"Every time I meet someone with the same doctor, it's like coming full circle for me," Jones said. "I've been in their shoes, and it's good to see them away from the hospital and not defined by it."

Jones works with Friends of Jaclyn and tries to get the baseball program involved every year. Friends of Jaclyn supports kids with brain tumors by connecting them with athletic teams.

Jones says it holds a special place for him because it brings back memories of his diagnosis.

"I remember the baseball team took me in and made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself," Jones said. "To be able to give that feeling to someone else now is really neat.

"I've learned that life isn't about me," he said. "It's all about what you can do for others. I'm blessed to have been diagnosed."

Jones hopes he can build a career helping kids.

He wants every kid to hit that gong.


UNC baseball team bullpen catcher Chase Jones has organized the 2010 UNC BaseBald For The Cure, an event in conjunction with the Diamond Heels to challenge fans to help raise money to fight cancer.

For each $100 donated to the Lineberger Cancer Center and Children's Hospital before April 11, one Tar Heel baseball player will shave his head on the Boshamer Stadium field following the April 11 game against N.C. State. With 35 players on the roster, the event could raise as much as $3,500 to fight pediatric cancer -- and if money is raised for the entire roster to shave, talk will turn to persuading the coaches to participate.

To make a donation, call the N.C. Medical Foundation at 1-800-962-2543 or (919) 966-5905 or make your donation online at Designate your gift for pediatric oncology and notify in the comments field that it is intended for Carolina Baseball, or mail a check to:

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Campus Box 7295
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7295
For further questions contact the Carolina Baseball office at (919) 962-2351.

the herald-sun Lisa Pepin

Chase Jones, bullpen catcher for UNC's baseball team, went into remission for brain cancer three years ago and now is leading the team's effort to raise at least $3,500 for the Lineberger Cancer Center and N.C. Children's Hospital. For each $100 donated, one member of the baseball team will shave his head after the April 11 game against N.C. State.

I was interested in contacting Chase, so I found his UNC email address and mailed him this:


My husband and I read the article about you in the Chapel Hill Hearld with interest because our son, Karl Humphries, was also a patient of Dr. Golds. March 2004-March 2007. Unfortunately Karl's battle with his brain tumor (brainstem Glioma) ended the month after he turned 13.

I am now the Book Fairy for the clinic and Dr. Gold and I call each other brother and sister.
As you know, he is a wonderful man.
I am a perennial plant gardener and am currently working part time for the UNC Grounds Dept. Some of the plants I work with are planted at the new baseball stadium. As I drive by the stadium I will be thinking of you and your good works.

I hope to meet you some day.

Kathy Humphries
/Book Fairy/

And he answered me:

Mrs. Humphries-

Thank you for telling me that. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your son, and I think its crazy that we were both being treated by Dr. Gold at the same time during that stretch.

In the past week I have undergone the first loss of a dear, dear friend of mine to cancer. I know this does not compare to a loss of a child, however, I have now finally felt the harsh reality of a battle of cancer. I feel so fortunate in what I have been through, and often describe it as the greatest blessing I have ever received, however after hearing about your son and dealing with my friend, it has driven me to do more against the horrible disease.

Dr. Gold was one of the reasons I am alive today, and probably one of the sole reasons I am so passionate in my outreach to the Children's Hospital today. His constant giving was totally undeserved by me, and I am always looking for a way to pay it forward due to him.

I have to say I have passed many hours reading some of the books you have given, so thank you for that. I also have to say thank you for the beautiful plants around the stadium- there is no better feeling than going to other baseball stadiums and knowing the one we have back in Chapel Hill is exponentially more gorgeous.

I want to extend an invite to come to this Sunday's game- we play N.C. state on the 11th, and I have started a fundraiser to get money specifically for the pediatric oncology unit over at the hospital. (If you want any more info, please visit )

I would love to get the chance to meet you as well, and I hope that I get the chance to enjoy some of your work around campus all spring long.

Thank you again for contacting me,

Chase Jones