Supporting the Barnes'

Life has a way of presenting us with tragedy and we’re never really ready for it. Bert Barnes has lived his life as a very healthy man, wherein he would rarely get sick and never had to take off from work due to his health. But after an illness incapacitated him last year, Bert has struggled to regain his footing. This has been incredibly difficult for his family, but no amount of time or money was too much in seeking treatment for their husband, father and grandfather. One year later, Bert is facing an even steeper climb, and the family has a substantial financial burden. As a member of Bert’s extended family, I would like to share his story.

It all started in August 2016, when Bert was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This disease attacked his muscles and skin leading to severe pain, rashes, hives, and muscle loss. The onset of this disease and Bert’s medical journey was very unexpected and caught Bert and his family very off-guard. After a lot of testing, the doctors determined that the autoimmune disease was brought on by stage four lung cancer.

Bert, and his wife Vickie, immediately decided to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

In November of 2016, he was admitted to the hospital in excruciating pain. Here it was determined that he had diverticulitis, which had caused a perforation in his colon. He underwent surgery for his colon which resulted in him receiving a colostomy bag. Soon after, he was admitted to the hospital again. This time he found out he had multiple blood clots in his right leg which eventually traveled to his lungs. The blood clots were eventually dissolved with blood thinners.

Upon continued chemotherapy treatments, he was given several blood transfusions in attempts to help balance out his blood count levels.  He soon received another surgery in order to remove his colostomy bag.

Over time, the radiation had caused severe burns/damage to his trachea and esophagus. This led to him being unable to breathe well, swallow, and, therefore, eat. Due to the damage/burns, Bert was hospitalized numerous times as he underwent multiple surgeries and procedures in attempts to repair his trachea and esophagus. He ended up receiving an esophageal stent and was sent home in high hopes of healing and returning back to daily life.

One morning Bert woke up and was paralyzed from the waist down. He was sent to the hospital where they found out his spine had been broken due to the intensity of the radiation. The doctors performed another surgery placing a rod in his back in hopes to heal his spine. Soon after, Bert's health was deteriorating faster than ever when they realized the rod from his previous surgery was contaminated with bacteria causing him to contract three serious infections in his abdomen and back. This lead to him receiving a Wound VAC to work on clearing out the infections.

During this time, he was also experiencing extreme throat pain, where the doctors realized the stent from his previous surgery had eroded into his trachea causing all fluids (food, saliva, water, etc.) to leak into his lungs and cause constant pneumonia. After several more procedures to attempt to repair the erosion, it had been determined that his trachea and esophagus were not repairable and that there was nothing more the doctors could do.

Currently, Bert is being released from the hospital and will be returning home with hospice. Here he will be surrounded by his loving wife, Vickie, who has been with him every step of the way, as well as his children and grandchildren.

The last year has been excruciatingly hard on Bert and his family, not only medically and emotionally, but financially. As anyone can see, this man and his family have been experiencing more hardships than imaginable. Through all of the appointments, hospitalizations, procedures, surgeries, transports, etc., the Barnes family has been overwhelmed with financial stressors as their savings and one working income has been their primary source for payment.

Even through the tumultuous year Bert has endured, he has never ceased to keep up his comforting spirit, his sarcastic sense of humor, and his strong will. I had the pleasure to visit Bert during one of his most recent hospitalizations. We were able to reminisce about all the times Bert babysat my brother and I. We laughed about his unwavering dedication in bringing me a lollipop each and every day he would come home from work. God forbid he would come home without one. This man has a heart of pure gold and would ensure that everyone around him was as happy as they could possibly be.

As a close family member, I can personally say that there is no greater man to support than Bert. He and his wife, Vickie, have always been two of the most generous people, and would never question going out of their way to help a person in need. Even in this time of hardship neither Bert nor Vickie would ask for help, so I am asking on their behalf.

I ask you to please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers. Pray for peace and comfort and for God’s healing hand. Any and all donations, likes, shares, and loving comments are very much appreciated and mean the world to us all. Thank you for your support.


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Chelsea Fender 
Martinsville, VA
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