Flicker of hope in face of loss
IT was the fight of his life, but Warren Barker won it.
Mr Barker was a fit and healthy man who had barely suffered any illness throughout his life.
But that all changed after discovering a lump on his neck late January 2007.
After tests in Bundaberg, Mr Barker and his wife Irene were sent to Brisbane to visit a specialist at the Wesley Hospital.
“The journey turned into a nightmare when we were told I had an aggressive form of T-Cell lymphoma and that we would have to remain in Brisbane,” Mr Barker said.
“I was working, we had all our neighbours and friends, and all of a sudden we were ripped up and put into this horrible world.”
Mrs Barker was beside her husband throughout his treatment, which involved four scares where it was feared Mr Barker would die.
The couple stayed in Brisbane for 11 months and returned to their Bundaberg east home two days before Christmas 2007.
The saviour during Mr Barker’s treatment was the Leukaemia Foundation, providing free accommodation and support.
“I was absolutely terrified to return home, because we lost our support of the Leukaemia Foundation,” he said.
Mr Barker will never have the all-clear from the disease but said the ordeal had changed his perspective on life.
“I think more than anything it renews your faith in human kindness and the goodness in people,” he said.
Last night, Mr Barker was one of many to pay tribute to lives affected by cancer at the Light the Night event at Nielson Park, Bargara, by releasing balloons of various colours – gold for lives lost to blood cancers, white to celebrate survivors, and blue to support those battling the disease.
Mr Barker let go of a white balloon, but it was not an easy decision.
“I came here not really knowing what balloon to represent – white to celebrate my survival of T-Cell lymphoma, gold in memory of my good friends or blue to show my support for all those who are on the journey,” he said in his speech to a 350-strong crowd.