Meet Charelle Barnes
Charelle is a 37-year-old breast cancer survivor from Baltimore, Maryland.
Tell us about yourself.
I've been married for 15 years. I have 2 boys. My oldest is deaf and is 15 years old, and my youngest is 13 years old. I was a hairstylist for 6 years.
When were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 21.
How has cancer changed your outlook on life?
This is my essay I wrote for Ms. Preakness Pink Warrior:
When you hear that you have cancer, any type of cancer, you think "why me". It feels like you are having an outer body experience. You think your journey in life is about to end but this is a journey I must take.
In May of 1994 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I had surgery to remove the cancer. My doctor at the time told me that they got it all and I didn't need any treatment but was told I would never have kids. On April 23, 1995, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. At my 6 week check up I was told I had a lump in my breast. I was just 21 years old. After all the testing was done, it was confirmed I had stage IIb breast cancer. I was devastated. I had surgery and went through chemotherapy and radiation. Two weeks after I finished my treatments and all the testing, I was told my cancer was in remission. I was so happy. In April of 1996 I was told the breast cancer was back and was stage IIIb. I opted not to have a mastectomy and went through chemotherapy. Once my treatment started I found out I was pregnant. Against doctors orders, I stopped my treatment. On December 31, 1996, I had a healthy, beautiful baby boy. I continued on this journey of trying to beat this BREAST CANCER. Now at the age of 36, I'm still fighting. I have stage IV breast cancer that has metastasized to my lung, bones, and brain.
I'm still fighting, I'm still here.
All of my friends call me "Superwoman" and I proudly wear the "S" on my chest. I try to be a source of energy and strength for all my loved ones. I want my kids to say "my mommy didn't let this disease have her, she fought all the way". As I write this, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and wonder "why me". Now I say "why not me". Having cancer has drastically changed my life. I have learned to live with the ups and downs of having cancer. I always would question "who is a survivor" and I was always told a person who lives each and everyday fighting this disease.
Cancer you picked the wrong DIVA!!!!!
I am the first Ms. Preakness Pink Warrior.
Support this non-profit in honor of Charelle:
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Maryland, komenmd.org
Please support those battling breast cancer by donating.