News Local

Barker ready for the fight against cancer

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today


The annual Relay for Life event took on a special meaning for the Barker family on Friday evening at the Cobourg Community Centre.

Chris Barker, his wife Tracey and their 20-year-old daughter Katie were members of Team Jude in honour of Barker’s aunt, Judy McVeen, who passed away in November 2015 after a short battle with cancer.

However, one month ago to the day of the Cobourg-based Relay For Life event, Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“When you find out your own child is diagnosed with cancer, it just changes everything,” Chris Barker said.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a relatively rare cancer. It accounts for around 0.5 % of all cancers and 15% of all lymphomas diagnosed, according to the Hodgkin’s lymphoma website. Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed. Hodgkin’s lymphoma occurs more frequently in males than females in the primary age categories of young adults (15 to 39 years) and late adulthood (after 55 years). Brothers and sisters of Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients have an above-average chance of developing the cancer, but the significance of the family relationship as the primary cause is not known.

The website states “many sources point out that the diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin has improved remarkably in recent years. Hodgkin now has a high survival rate.”

Katie Barker was attending the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s and was just completing her second of four years when she was diagnosed.

“Unfortunately she is going to have to put her career and schooling on hold to deal with this, but anyone who knows my daughter – she’s a fighter and ready to fight this and get back to school,” Chris Barker said.


Moving to Newfoundland and being on the sea had been a dream for Katie – born and raised in Cobourg – and her dad says that she loves the area so much she considers it her home.

For now, Katie has returned to Cobourg to be with family and to fight the disease. She will move back to Newfoundland when she is better.

Friday was not only an emotional day for the family at Relay For Life. Prior to the event, Katie’s fight started with a CAT scan along with meeting the chemotherapy nurses at Northumberland Hills Hospital where she will be receiving treatment.

“It’s a very moving moment for us, not just for my Aunt Judy, but also for my daughter,” Chris Barker said. “We’ve been receiving a lot of support from friends and tonight we’re here honouring my aunt, but also fighting for my daughter.”

Briefly stopping during her laps around the track at the CCC, Katie said “although I’m walking for my aunt, it’s really emotional for me being diagnosed with cancer. Seeing other young people who are currently going through what I have to face was tough at first, but the Relay for Life brings everyone together to show that you are not alone.”

Watching his daughter go walk around the track with his wife, Chris Barker said “I’ve been saying to everyone who has kids, give them an extra hug because everything can change overnight.”