Carly Carver, Editor
The Ashland Beacon
Jodi Barnes, 39, formerly of Ashland, has been battling triple-negative breast cancer for the past three years and recently found out the cancer has spread.
“It has been a difficult time for Jodi and unfortunately her cancer has spread,” said her friend, Becky Pack. “She is now trying a new treatment and we are praying this will work for her.”
Barnes, the mother of a four and a five-year-old, said she found out about the cancer in 2018, right before her son’s birthday.
“For about a month I had this lump on my right side, and it was hurting, and I just thought it was a cyst that wouldn’t go away,” said Barnes. “I went to the doctor, and they said to get an ultrasound. They said it looked like a fatty tumor, not a cyst, and so we did a biopsy. It came back as Stage 3 Invasive IDC, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.”
Barnes feels that her family was a major influence in being able to get through her appointments. “If it wasn’t for my husband and my parents, I couldn’t have done it,” said Barnes.
Her husband, Josh Barnes, was by her side throughout the entire process. “It was a good thing my husband was with me,” said Barnes. “We just really didn’t expect this news. Breast cancer does not run in my family. We have no history. When they said it was breast cancer, I just shut down, I couldn’t even hear what was going on.”
Her family was instrumental in helping process the news and assisting with retaining the instructions and information the doctors were giving her.
“I remember they gave me a few minutes to try to process before we started planning surgery and treatment and everything,” said Barnes. “They were giving me these books and tissues and information, and my parents were on speaker, and it was just so much to process. I’m not even sure I was listening; I just fell into my own world.”
Barnes said she met with her Oncologist the same week after she received the biopsy news. Her father and her husband attended with her, and Barnes said that her family’s support meant everything through that appointment.
“That following week it was like I had a different scan or appointment every day,” said Barnes. “Bone scans, CT scans, an MRI, everything.”
In April of 2018, Barnes started her first Chemotherapy appointment. Barnes said she set her mind through Chemotherapy that she would be positive. “If you are positive then you can do it,” said Barnes. “I was really exhausted, but I stayed positive.”
Barnes then had a double mastectomy in October of 2018. Her children were younger when the diagnosis first hit, but that her five-year-old still remembers how sick she was before.
“When we found out about the cancer, my oldest was almost three,” said Barnes. “And I found out right before his birthday.”
Barnes said she worries every single day that something will happen to her and her children will have to grow up without her. “I worried every day that I wouldn’t be here for my children,” said Barnes. “The outcome at that time was good. We had high hopes that we had it all, that I would be in the clear, and that everything is fine. Because I did the chemo and the double mastectomy, I was supposed to be good.”
Barnes is still battling cancer, and the cancer has continued to spread. “In June of 2019, I tripped and landed on my side, and when we got to his doctor’s appointment, I told my doctor I had fallen,” said Barnes. “She marked it in my file. It wasn’t even two weeks later and I was back to see my doctor and my leg hurt, my hip hurt, and she put me into physical therapy but it didn’t get better.”
Barnes then went to see an Orthopedic surgeon, who sent in for an MRI with contrast. That same day Barnes received a call saying that I needed to get into contact with my Oncologist. “I knew there must be something wrong with my leg,” said Barnes. “They found a tumor.”
Barnes saw her Oncologist in August of 2019, and he informed her that the socket ball of her hip had been eaten away by the tumor. The doctor said she would need around 10 radiation treatments, and then put on an oral chemotherapy pill.
“It was my second day into radiation, and I couldn’t walk,” said Barnes. “I thought the hip had just broken.”
They discovered more damage and Barnes was referred to an Orthopedic Oncologist who immediately told Barnes she needed emergency surgery.
Barnes had 10 more radiation appointments after her surgery, and she was healthy for the next six months.
Then on Mother's Day weekend of 2020, Barnes found out the cancer has spread throughout her entire right leg, and her lymph nodes were involved, as well as her lungs and liver.
“I don’t remember anything from there on,” said Barnes. “My whole world crashed. I couldn’t stop crying.” She went through more oral chemotherapy in 2020, had a port placed in and IV chemotherapy, but both failed. Her lungs and liver continued to be compromised.
“I am on a clinical trial now,” said Barnes. “There is still a lot of learning and uncertainty.”
The drug is only for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer patients and is made to combat cancer spreading to her organs. “They’ve seen better results in treating organs with this one,” said Barnes. “But this chemo is so much harsher.” Barnes is constantly physically ill and exhausted while on the medication.
“I go on the 16th to see if it is working,” said Barnes. The family has had to endure high costs associated with the treatment of the invasive cancer.
“Because I wasn’t working, and we were living paycheck to paycheck, it’s been a real expense,” said Barnes. “I had Medicaid up until November 2019, and then they stopped it. They dropped me. So I had to rush and try to find a backup insurance because I had scans, I had medications, I needed insurance.”
Barnes was able to join the Obama Care program, but there was a fight to get coverage over all of her medications.
“These drugs are insanely expensive,” said Barnes. “We got them covered but the copay was still around $230 a month.”
Barnes recently got one of the hospital bills paid off, but she still has around $4,000 from last year remaining. “And this year just started, that’ll be a cost, too,” said Barnes.
The cost of treatment, along with travel expenses and other medical expenses, has been astronomically high. So Ray Davis, owner of Wings Etc. in Russell, is helping the family through his business. Davis is donating 15 percent of the sales from the business on January 19 to assist the family with their expenses. “Please come and join for lunch or dinner,” said Becky Pack.
“All I can do is stay positive, and keep a positive mind,” said Barnes. “I have my moments where I break, but I am trying to be positive. It keeps my boys going.”