This spring, she was a queen.
Karen Barnes and her husband Greg celebrated at the annual Relay for Life event in May, crowned “Hopecoming” queen and king in one of the participating tents.
With her cancer in remission and preventative radiation treatments at an end, the family moved to Franklin. Karen Barnes says she even said at the time, “I hope I don’t get sick up here and we have to drive back and forth.”
Unfortunately, that’s what happened. Two weeks after the move, she didn’t feel well. During routine tests in August, they found a tumor on her right lung and enlarged lymph nodes in her esophagus and heart.
It’s her third round with cancer and second round with this type, small-cell carcinoma.
“It’s basically lung cancer,” she said. “There’s no cure for this cancer.”
Karen Barnes first got renal cancer in 2005 and fought that off. Then her husband, Greg, got melanoma in 2008. The lung cancer first showed up in 2010. Doctors told her then there was no cure, only the hope of remission, which she had achieved.
“We have taken turns being each other’s caregiver,” Greg Barnes said. “This time it was supposed to be my turn.”
There is some reason to celebrate. Karen Barnes just completed her third round of chemotherapy and the tumor and lymph nodes are shrinking. Doctors haven’t decided if she will have radiation again.
But “it’s been a lot harder this time around,” she said. Chemo treatments have been four days in a row in each cycle.
It’s been tough financially as well. She and Greg are both on disability and don’t work. An adult daughter and two grandchildren they are helping raise live with them. And the last medical bill she got was $62,000.
Family members have stepped in and are planning several fundraisers. There will be a bake sale Oct. 27 at Food Depot. “Kause for Karen” T-shirts are available starting at $20 each. A motorcycle ride, benefit singing and barbecue also are being planned.
A fund for Karen Barnes also has been set up and donations may be made at any Charterbank.
“We’re just trying to stay positive and keep the faith,” Greg Barnes said. The couple has been married 17 years.
“The Lord has been looking out for us,” he said. “We can’t let this get us down.”
• To find out about T-shirts and other fundraisers, call Angie Jones at 706-402-1292 or Barbara Parrott at 706-957-1663.