Hey everyone!! It's Survivor Saturday and today I bring you Mrs. Charelle Barnes. She came to the session with her son who was so attentive to his mother and so sweet. Charelle's personality is larger than life and she knows how to have a good time. I have been doing these sessions for a while now and I have not had one with a person that has been given a terminal diagnosis. Hearing Charelle's story really touched me and to see her still working and taking care of her family was inspiring to say the least. Please read her story and keep her and her family in your prayers. Please meet Charelle...
1. What type of cancer were you diagnosed with and when?
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer on May 10, 1994 just less than 2 months shy of my 21st birthday. I didn’t know what cervical cancer was or how you could get it. My doctor scheduled my surgery date less than a week later. After having surgery, I was advised that all the cancer had been removed, but I would never have children. I was devastated because I was so young and all I ever wanted to do was get married and to be a mon. As it turns out, I got pregnant and had my first child on April 23rd, 1995. I tried breast-feeding my son, but he would not latch on. When I went in for my six-week check-up, the doctor found a lump and recommended testing. After all the testing was done the results came back that I had breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy this time I had to have chemotherapy and radiation. Between all that, I got married on July 7th, 1995. After finishing radiation, I was told I was CANCER FREE. In early 1996, I started not to feel well but I didn’t think anything of it. Went in for a check-up and he doctor was concerned because my blood counts were a little off and I told him how I’d been feeling and the pains I was having in my chest. He ran more test and I was told my cancer had returned. It was a Stage IIIB, like I really knew what that meant. The oncologist recommended that I get a double breast mastectomy. I had no one to talk to because there was no one my age going through or had gone through what I was going through. I talked with my husband and he said I’m behind you whatever you decide I’m not going anywhere. I prayed about it and decided not to have it. My doctor was furious but the decision was mine to make and live with the consequences. I was scheduled for surgery and started chemotherapy shortly after. I was going in to have my bloodwork done to get my 2nd chemo treatment and was told I was pregnant. I gave birth to my second son on December 31st, 1996 and immediately started back on chemotherapy.
In 2010, at the age of 36, I was told my cancer had metastasized to my lung, stomach, bone, and brain. My cancer is now terminal. In 2012, the doctors gave me a year and then less than 6 months to live. I’ve out lived that time frame. I’m still here; I’m still fighting.
2. What/Who helped you get through your treatment?
My family, especially my husband, and my relationship with God. (and not wanting another taking my place😀)
3. What did you do to celebrate that special day and your anniversary day?
I've only celebrated once and that was when I celebrated my 20th Warriorversary. I went out to lunch with my bff Shay and her mom Ms. Jackie and we had brunch with a cake.
4. Do you have any special charities that you are involved in or host as a survivor?
Shay Sharpe's Pink Wishes
5. What advice would you give to someone that is just being diagnosed?
Keep God first! Do not tackle this battle alone. Make sure to have the most important people around you that will pray for you, encourage you, and most importantly help you. Be your own advocate. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.