Cheryle Barnes was happy and healthy – until Valentine’s Day 2011, when she discovered she had breast cancer.
“You never want that diagnosis, and when you get it, you’re in shock,” Barnes said.
Thankfully, Barnes is cancer-free today, but it is the gracious manner in which she speaks of her cancer experience that is just as inspiring. She expresses more gratitude of support than fear of the disease.
A long-time staff member of LeTourneau University Student Accounts, Barnes recalls her reaction when she was first diagnosed: “The amount of cards and letters I got was overwhelming. I had people who I didn’t even know knew me come up to say they were praying for me.”
Barnes said, even on her worst days, her faith and the support of her family and LeTourneau coworkers helped her through the toughest hours: “There were times when I didn’t want to see anyone, but I still knew people were praying. It’s what got my husband and me through this. That’s the thing about LeTourneau – you have that support in prayer.”
A particular impact for Barnes was colleagues who had been through the same experience. She spoke of one coworker who accompanied her to her first chemotherapy appointment, took notes of pertinent information and all the doctor’s and nurse’s names. Barnes said she didn’t have the wherewithal at the time to think of those details at the time. She also said her family received many visitors and meals from her LeTourneau family.
When asked what advice she would give to other survivors or those close to patients, Barnes stressed the importance of yearly mammograms and informing doctors of cancer in family history.
Barnes was also emphatic about the need for close support for patients: “It’s not contagious, and it’s not an alone disease. You need people to surround you.”
Most encouraging is Barnes’ unflinching faith.
“I always felt like God led me to LeTourneau for a reason, and I think that may be why – to have that support system. I believe God had a purpose for it.”