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Shack employee describes his struggle with PCT

by Clare Gates, Staff Writer

You line up for a sandwich. You make your order, stand idle for several minutes as you wait for your food, then you pay at the register and exit the Shack. Are you aware that you missed something, or rather, someone? A thin man wearing glasses and a baseball cap was standing at the fryer, and he was working so hard during the lunch rush that he was entirely absorbed in his work. You didn’t notice him, and you missed something else too: there was a blue can near the register.

The can is the receptacle for a collection for Dave Jones; he has Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT), which is a rare disease characterized by an enzyme deficiency. Jones has battled the illness for over a year now, and the International Student Union is collecting money at the Shack through the rest of this year to offset the cost of Jones’ medical treatment.

“I was first diagnosed in June of 2009,” Jones said, and although his disease is unusual, it is the most common of porphyria diseases, illnesses in which porphyrins build up in the liver. PCT may be a genetic or an acquired disease, and most individuals with genetic PCT are unaware of the disease as a result of latent or nonexistent symptoms. PCT is the most treatable of porphyria diseases after diagnosis, but Jones has had relentless treatment nonetheless.

“I take pills two times a day and a shot once a week. The treatment wreaks havoc on my white and red blood cells, and I’ve had to undergo blood transfusions,” he said.

Mr. Jones is not simply a man at the Shack defined by PCT, however. He is a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He has been married to his wife Lisa for thirty years now, and the couple has two sons in their twenties, David and Troy. The Jones’ have two grandchildren as well: Caiden, age five, and Gaige, age two.

“They are the love of my life.” Jones said.

Jones and his wife are residents of North Huntingdon, where Mr. Jones has lived most of his life, and where he studies karate in his spare time.

“I was recently inducted into the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Hall of Fame,” he said.

Just as he applies himself to the study of martial arts, Jones has always been a diligent worker at Saint Vincent College, where he has been employed for the past three years. He even worked a second cooking job in addition to his job at the Shack, “But two jobs became too hard to do,” he added.

According to student and former coworker Jeff “Rubes” Feliciana, Jones “was always a dedicated employee. Despite his illness, he still works almost full time at the shack.”

“I am very grateful as far as my work schedule goes;” said Jones, “I try to work as much as I can.”

The other Shack workers admire Jones as well; coworker Patty said spontaneously, “We all love Dave, and you can quote me on that!”

In fact, several coworkers approached Feliciana, the president of the International Student Union, to see if the club could take action. With the permission of Parkhurst Dining Service, the ISU started a collection as an act of community service to offset the cost of Jones’ expensive medical treatment, especially because Jones does not have his own insurance; his insurance is “through my wife,” he said.

Dave Jones is not the only faculty member of Saint Vincent College who deals with the trials of a serious illness every day, however. Various students here have also certainly dealt with their own personal illnesses, and many faculty members and students alike know the pain of having an ailing family member. Like Dave, all of these individuals wake up every morning and bravely face the day ahead of them with all its tribulations.

“Please let everyone involved know that I appreciate what they have done,” Dave asked.

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