She hopes that by sharing her cancer journey, she can be a source of light and hope to someone who may be struggling.
And with a lot of encouragement from a lot of friends, family and Facebook followers, Lucy Barnes has written her story in a new book titled, “A Godly Woman Walking in Indescribable Faith.” She will have a book signing Saturday from 12-2 p.m. at Blue 22 (formerly Beef O’Brady’s) and Sunday at Second Baptist Church, where she will share her testimony during the morning worship services, beginning at 11 a.m. The book is also available at www.gillcopublishing.com.
“It’s easy to talk faith, sing faith, preach faith but much more difficult to live it,” said Rev. Joseph Stone, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Starkville. “Well, Lucy Barnes is living it. She is a living epistle. She is walking out her faith for all to see and by doing so, she is inspiring countless numbers of people. She inspires me.”
Stone is one of many who have followed Barnes on Facebook, where she has shared elements of her story and words of encouragement regularly since her cancer journey began in 2012.
“’When I see her maintain her joy in the midst of such trying times it makes me do inventory on my faith,” Stone said. “If she can press forward with a positive and faith-filled spirit through her bouts with cancer. Surely, I can surely press forward thru circumstances that fail in comparison to her trials.”
Lucy Gillespie Barnes is a native of Starkville, where she lives surrounded by her children, Ladrecus, Latisha, Laportcia and Ryakko Williams-Hickman. She has eight grandchildren.
A Facebook follower and book publisher, Earl Gillespie, had been following Barnes’ story via social media. One particular post caught his eye and he inboxed Barnes to ask if she had ever thought about doing a book to share her journey. Shortly thereafter, the two met and discussed the possibilities. The book is titled “A Godly Woman Walking in Indescribable Faith.”
“This is my story,” Barnes said. “I choose not to suffer in silence and it is my hope that my story will be a light, even a blessing to someone who is struggling in the darkness,” Barnes said. “As I continue to fight this battle, please remember me in your prayers.”
Her journey began in 2012 as a single mother with no health insurance. She was employed with West Memorial Funeral Home in Starkville. Barnes remembers that Friday afternoon in September 2012 when she began feeling a little week, and as the day progressed, she had just enough energy to make it home to the couch. For many days before, her menstrual cycle had changed and she was bleeding constantly – “all day, every day.” At around 10 p.m., her friend Dorothy Sanders called. Hearing the weakness in her voice, she urged her friend to go to the emergency room to see what was wrong. Barnes was unable to take herself, so Sanders and her husband drove from Columbus that night to take Barnes to the hospital.
That night, the doctors on staff discovered large fibroid tumors. On Monday, she was sent to a gynecological oncologist who schedule her first surgery for Nov.6, 2012.
“In the meantime, while waiting to have surgery, I bleed from Sept. 22 to the day of surgery, all day and every day,” Barnes said. “This reminded me of the woman in the Bible with the issue of blood. I knew if God heal her I knew He could heal me.”
The pathology report indicated malignant cells in her uterus. As the doctor said those words, Barnes said she knew God was saying to her “I’ve got you.”
“That was the voice of God,” Barnes said. “That moment, I knew that I was going to have to really pray, fight and walk in faith.”
At that time, Barnes was 45 years old, had eaten healthy as much as possible and exercised regularly. Despite all of that, Barnes was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer call Leiomyosarcoma. She began radiation treatments a few days later-five days a week for six weeks.
“I knew it was going to be a rocky road and I knew I had to keep the faith,” Barnes said. “I knew that God could do anything but fail me because he said it in His Word.”
She completed radiation in February 2013, but toward the end of March, she began feeling sick. The oncologist instructed her to go to the local emergency room for evaluation. Test results showed an enlarged appendix and spots on the lower lobe of her right lung. She was admitted into the hospital for observation.
Barnes returned to her gynecological oncologist who was in total disbelief about the second diagnosis. Another surgery with no money for pre-admission. She needed $1,500 before the hospital would do the surgery, and through several unusual circumstances, the money was supplied just in time. She had her second cancer surgery on April 5, 2013.
“I asked the doctor ‘What do we need to do now?’” Barnes said. “God brought me through the first time, there was no doubt He’s bring me through this time.”
At that point, friends would as her how she dealing with all of the medical issues.
“My word to them was, ‘God said in His word that He would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5),” Barnes said. “As I continue to trust and live my life for God, it’s like Satan is saying, ‘I’m going to make her give up on God,’ but I say to my family and friends, ‘No! God is a man of His word and I’m going to continue to keep My Faith.’”
During that same year on Nov. 9, Barnes took a church trip with the elder ladies of Sand Creek Chapel M.B. Church to Memphis, Tenn. When she returned home that day, she wasn’t feeling well. Her daughter, Latisha Tucker, urged her mom to go and get checked out because of her medical history. Tests showed her appendix was enlarged and about to rupture. She had emergency surgery the following morning on Nov. 10, 2013.
On the last Sunday in August 2014, she was visiting a local church and when she pulled up in the parking lot and got out the car, she stepped in a hole and it threw her to the ground. She broke her ankle and, once again was rushed to the hospital. After that surgery, Barnes was unable to walk for about five months.
When she started to walk again, she thought she was about to “move on” with her life. Then, she woke up one morning to work out on her elliptical machine and her right leg was swollen and hard. She called her doctor. The initial evaluation didn’t find anything, but due to her medical history, the doctor ordered a scan. That scan indicated a mass in her buttock, and the biopsy proved it was malignant. She had surgery July 2015 and stayed in the hospital two days. After healing for the surgery, Barnes went through another round of radiation for six weeks, five days a week. When she was down to the last treatment, Barnes was so weak, she could barely walk out the building.
“The radiation burned me so bad I couldn’t walk, or sit on the toilet for three months,” Barnes said. “I had to lay on my left side all that time. Still praying and talking to God and never have I questioned God. I have had many bouts of crying, had stressed and depressed days, but I still keep a smile on my face.”
In July 2016, she went for a scan and the test results showed that the cancer had returned on both lungs.
“I cried and then I said, ‘Lord, I feel like I’m living how you want me to live,’” Barnes said. “I started thinking each time, ‘God you are using me for your Glory to show people that if God is not Lord, a person couldn’t deal with all of these things I was going through.”
On August 5, 2016, she had a surgical procedure to have a port put in to better assist with the upcoming chemotherapy treatments.
“The chemo burned me so bad from the inside out,” Barnes said. “I couldn’t walk, couldn’t bath myself, couldn’t breathe and had so much fluid on my body, I wasn’t able to get in my bed to sleep. I had to sleep in my big chair in the living room for four months. God blessed me with my loving and caring family and friends to be there for me in my time of need.”
In November 2016, Barnes began having problems with her arm swelling, which can be a side effect of chemotherapy treatments. Tests revealed a blood clot in her left arm.
On a Tuesday night in November, Barnes’ friend, Angela Howard, stopped by to check on her friend Lucy. Howard noticed Barnes’ speech was not right. Barnes thought to was a side effect of chemotherapy, but little did she know, she was having a stroke. She was immediately sent to North Mississippi Medical Center for treatment. Once she started showing signs of improvement, she was moved to the rehabilitation floor to help with her speech and walking. Then she was taken to another floor to be treated for fluid on her heart and lungs.
On Jan. 9, 2017, she was discharged from NMMC to go home with the help of home health nurses and physical therapists to get her back to walking. During this time, she was taken off of chemotherapy treatments, because she was struggling so much with the side effects.
In March 2017, she was healthy enough to consider chemotherapy treatments again. The scan showed her tumors were still there and she began chemotherapy pills, which shot her blood pressure “out of sight” and her heart rate was very low. She had to stop the chemo pills.
In August 2017, she returned to the oncologist for another scan. The tumors are growing and another one was developing.
“All I could do was to break down and cry with hurt and fear in my heart,” Barnes said. “I’m still praying and keeping the faith, but I’m human at the same time. So, I get myself back together and continue to talk to God and wait on the doctors.”
On Sept. 10, her arm and leg was swelling and she just wasn’t feeling good. Her friend, Dorothy Thompson, took her to the emergency room for more tests. Results showed cellulitis, which is an infection under the skin.
On Oct. 16, Barnes started chemo treatment again.
“No matter what, I will always keep my faith as I wait on God to heal me from cancer,” Barnes said. “God is God and he is able to heal me, but if He doesn’t, He is still God. I’m believing with all my heart and faith the He’s going to heal me because I have another book to write!”
To learn more about Barnes’ inspirational journey and purchase a book, go to www.gillcopublishing.com.
This story is featured in the October 28, 2017 edition of The Starkville Daily News.