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Our 3rd Wish Recipient: Charelle’s Story. Written by Charelle Barnes

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Have you ever been sooo sleepy, that if you go to sleep you could sleep for hours, but you’re afraid to go to sleep, because you may never wake up? Have you seen someone, maybe you just saw yesterday, but you stare at them because you may never see them again? When you’re diagnosed with terminal cancer, that’s your reality. That’s my reality.

My story starts a little different then most.

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer on May 10, 1994. My Dr. decided surgery would be best. My boyfriend took me to my surgery and stayed with me until he had to go to work. When I spoke with my Dr. he said that they removed the cancer. I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation but I would never have kids. I was devastated! My boyfriend told me not to worry; I was going to be a mom. On April 23, 1995, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Carroll. I tried to breastfeed but he wouldn’t latch on. At my 6-wk check up my Dr notice a lump. I went and had a mammogram, a sonogram, and then the dreaded biopsy. My Dr. confirmed it was stage IIB breast cancer. I was devastated once again. I’m a new mommy how dare you tell me this. I had no one to talk to. No one to help me make decisions. It’s was then, that I decided to have a lumpectomy. I started chemotherapy 2 weeks after my surgery. On July 7, 1995, I married my best friend, my rock, my everything. I made an honest man out of him. I continued my chemotherapy and then radiation. No one told me everything that I would go through. (Body changes, loss of appetite, and the dreaded hair loss.) I kept on working and pressing on. 2 weeks after finishing radiation my Dr. ran tests, then I was told my breast cancer was in remission. I was sooo happy, I felt like I had won the lottery!

I went on with life. Being a new mom and a new wife. Everything was great. And then I went to the Drs. My blood count was a little funny. He ran more tests and in March, 1996 I was told my breast cancer was back. Once again I had no one to talk to. My husband is like whatever you decide I’m with you. My Dr had decided on a double breast mastectomy. I opted not to get the mastectomy. I had made up my mind, that whatever I came in this world with, I was leaving with. My breast cancer was at a stage IIIB. I had surgery to try to remove the cancer with lymph node removal and start chemotherapy. After completing my first round of chemo, right before my 2nd dose of chemo, I found out I was pregnant. Against Drs. orders I decided to stop the chemo in order to have my baby. On December 31, 1996, I had a healthy beautiful baby boy. We named him Brendan. After I gave birth I went right back on chemo.

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When I ran for Pimlico Ms. Preakness Pink Warrior, I learned that my cancer had spread. In 2010 at the age of 36, my cancer had metastasized to my lung, bone, and brain. I decided at that time, I will fight until I can’t fight no more. Now at the age of 39, my cancer is now TERMINAL. Still I’m not ready to give up. I’m not ready to give up!

This brings me to Ms. Shay Sharpe. I kept seeing pictures of her and pictures from the SSPW Fundraiser from last year. I’m like who is this Shay Sharpe and what are these Pink Wishes? I went to their website and read all of her information and about the wish that, the first Wish Recipient, Dana received. I emailed Shay in the middle of the night and to my surprise she emailed right back! I told her I didn’t want anything from her, I just wanted to share my experience with her. I didn’t have anyone to talk to and just really wanted to share my story. I explained to her that it’s sometimes hard for me to talk about my illness without feeling like I’m being judged. I have people saying you don’t look sick; you still have all your weight; you still have your color. I’m like, what am I suppose to look like, death rolled over? REALLY? Explain to me what am I suppose to look like!

I try to be a source of energy and inspiration to my loved ones and everyone I come in contact with. I want my boys to know that I didn’t let this disease stop me from living and being me. I am fighting with all my heart and all my energy.

As I always say

CANCER PICKED THE WRONG DIVA!!!!!

One response to “Our 3rd Wish Recipient: Charelle’s Story. Written by Charelle Barnes”

  1. Suzanne Baldivieso says:

    Hi Charelle. I have seen many pictures of you on Shay’s website but had never read any of the stories. I read yours today. I just want to commend you on your beautiful and strong spirit.

    You are a gorgeous lady inside and out and I know that you have so much to live for. I got connected with Shay because my sister and I were friends of Dana and we wanted to donate to make her wish come true. She was such a beautiful spirit, beautiful lady and is dearly missed.

    I get the whole thing about not having anyone to talk to. When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 she was still breast feeding her baby. The doctors were not able to offer her anyone her age to talk with. I’m not going to go into all of her details because that’s her story. But the outcome was that she started an online forum for young women called Sisters in Survivorship. This has now spread around the world and she has since handed off the management of this to one of her fellow survivors.

    I think that what we share with one another is so important. A priest friend of mine likes to say “You’re either busy living or you’re busy dying.” It is clear to see that you are busy living!!! I wish and pray for you, all of the joy and all of the love that life has to offer!

    Love and Peace to You,

    Suzanne Baldivieso

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