Teacher of the year inspires community

Melanie Wakefield

High school students can’t agree on much but everyone at Auburn High School can admit the 2014 Winter Wishes assembly was an afternoon not soon forgotten. Yet very few know the story in which Bob Jones’ shaved head came to be.

Beginning in October of 2013, Bob Jones went to the doctor. Jones had been having some bad stomach pains since July. It was a stomach ache stemming from what he thought was an ulcer. Jones admitted he should’ve gone to the doctor sooner.

The doctor began asking him questions, to which he answered accordingly. She then asked him one crucial question: if he had lost any weight.

“I had lost 23 pounds,” said Jones. “I knew something was up because she began typing right away.”

Mr. Jones went home, but it was only three days later that he received a call. His doctor wanted him to come in for an appointment.

“There was this other meeting I had wanted to go to,” Jones said. “So she told me over the phone that they were concerned about cancer.”

At first Jones explained that he didn’t get it. His first thought was that he was going to die, but “You get over that thought pretty quickly,” he said. There was a lesion on his pancreas. Within three days he became a cancer patient and by the third week of October he had begun chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

In an article published last year about Jones, it was mentioned that he was about to go into surgery. January of 2014 the surgery plan had been to remove the tumor that his chemotherapy had been shrinking.

“The surgery went well,” Jones said.

But then he began having complications from the surgery and not the cancer. Originally he was supposed to only miss work from January to March, but in total he missed 92 days from school.

The sun seemed to come out for Jones in the summer. By July 1, things, he said, seemed to turn around. By August 1, he was off medication.

“Tests seemed to show that the cancer was gone!” he said.

One particular scan in August stood out. The doctors couldn’t see clearly and the results were inconclusive. Jones had come to the conclusion that he was out of the woods, so the inconclusive test results were frustrating.

“In the fall it was like I had my life back,” said Jones.

Jones was scheduled for a routine scan every three months. In October 2014, the cancer reappeared. As of now, he has been treated with chemotherapy but no surgery or radiation. The cancer had, at first, began in his pancreas and had then moved through the bloodstream into his stomach area.

“When the cancer goes through the bloodstream it could lead to any part of the body,” Jones said. “The positive is no surgery… The negative is that the tumors are being treated every day…. Things are going well.”

The first time he had chemotherapy and radiation no hair came out. This time around, the chemo once again didn’t affect his hair even after three weeks. He began to think that maybe he wouldn’t lose the hair after all.

The morning before the assembly his hair began to fall out.

“I was in the shower and felt hair on my forehead. You’re not supposed to have hair there y’know,” Jones said.

It came out in clumps from the sides of his head as he pulled it. A few hours later he went to his chemotherapy treatment and began texting Mrs. Henry asking her if they’d let him shave his head during the assembly.

He expressed his feelings towards having his head shaved as “bizarre” but the shaving itself wasn’t a problem. Jones mentioned that having his head shaved was a symbol that having cancer was more than a big deal.

Mrs. Hinson, who has beaten breast cancer, helped shave his head and stayed after for approximately fifteen minutes to finish shaving it “correctly.”

“Now everyone knows,” Jones said. “Now the kids ask how I’m doing and they know something’s going on… I said no to people wanting to shave their heads for me,” he added, explaining it served as a reminder for him, “You can keep your hair.”

He was glad that they shaved his head, it was going to come out anyway.

Jones said his motivation was that he “wants to be here” and that he has “three kids in their twenties.” He wants to be around for that. He said that his prior life was easy and that he has the best job in the school district.

“Things have gone my way,” said Jones, “It could be worse.”

He hopes that the treatment works, even though there’s a chance that this won’t go the way everyone wants it to.

“There’ll be a point if it doesn’t go right, we’ll deal with that… Right now the numbers that measure the cancer are good, the chemo is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”

He does what he has to do to stay normal. “I’m trying to do my job.”

The big picture is to focus on today.

“Each day that goes right leads to a lot of other days. Thinking far ahead is stressful,” said Jones.

Things have become the great unknown for Jones, and yet he’s said that if this is as bad things are going to get, he could do this forever.

The saying he lives by, “Focus on today,” has taken the hearts of many and Jones was voted for and won the “Teacher of the Year” award for 2014-2015.