A Fighting Woman & Her Story

I want to take this time to talk about someone who I consider to be a very near and dear friend.  I haven't physically seen her in about 6 years but I still love her now just as much as I did the last time that I was able to hug her.  Barbara is a friend who comes from my "Army Wife" days, when I was still married to Ninja's dad.  She was the first friend I made when we were stationed at Fort Hood, TX.  Within the same night that we met, it took us no time at all to see that we were going to become very good buddies.

We met in 2005, which was my first official year of living as an Army Wife. I was 1,300 miles away from all of my family.  I have always been an independent natured girl, but I was also 20 years old at the time and I missed my momma. When I needed comfort, Barbara stepped up to the plate and took me under he wing.  She was almost like my big sister during those days.  She showed me how to shop on a budget (not that my mom hadn't already taught me, but this time I was actually spending money from my OWN bank account!) and how to cook good, cheap meals.  Barbara had two handsome young boys, Payton and Kyle.  She demonstrated for me the love of a young mother through them.  Her world revolved around her husband and two sons.

There is one other thing, *the greatest thing*, that Barbara taught me: how to be a strong woman.  I learned very quickly in Texas how different the military life was.  While I am very happy with my life now and wouldn't trade it for the world, I still look back on those days and miss the friendships that I built. They were some of the shortest lived, yet strongest friendships I will ever know.  You see, in the military even the spouses don't have their family around them. So you learn to adapt and become a family with each other.  That's why, even though we now live across the country and haven't seen each other in years, Barbara is still like family to me, along with 5 other women whom I still keep in close contact with.  That is also why, when Barbara began experiencing severe health issues, I longed to be by her side.

A few years ago, the doctors found a tumor on Barbara's brain.  It's okay, you can breathe --- she went through chemo therapy and has been successfully cancer free for 3 years now! However, Barbara's battle is far from being over.  She still has a benign pituitary tumor, which interferes significantly with her life because it screws with her hormones, her cognition, and it can even cause her to have slurred speech at times.  She suffers with her brain swelling over and over again, and she gets terrible migraines.

These photos were taken during Barbara's chemo

To add to her history with cancer and her brain tumor, Barbara also has Interstitial Cystitis; something that I too was diagnosed with 12 years ago.  It's a disease of the bladder and if anyone has experienced a Urinary Tract Infection, imagine having one every day for the rest of your life.  Antibiotics do nothing for it because it is not caused by a bacterial infection.  It is something you are born with, though it doesn't often show up until you are older.  It is a painful and miserable disease, which I can testify in my own life leads to depression and anxiety, as well as lack of sleep! While there are some treatments for it, IC is still a bit of a newly discovered disease and therefore, the treatment options are slim... and expensive.

Even though my days as an Army Wife are over, Barbara's are not.  She is often left alone with the boys and her own, personal struggles while her husband, Michael, is either out in the field or across seas, working hard to provide for his family and protect his country.  She is proud of all that he does, and so am I.  Michael is a very loving and devoted husband and I can only imagine how hard it has been for him to leave his family, especially his wife in her times of need.  But this couple is a true symbol of what a military family goes through when they put their own needs and desires aside to serve their country.  In my opinion, Barbara and Michael BOTH deserve a standing ovation, a thank you, and a salute from anyone who is reading this.

Yet, through all of the pain Barbara has never let her faith be shaken.  She has never shown any signs of weakness or regret for her husband's service to his country.  When I speak to her all I see is a beautiful, courageous woman who continues to praise God for her wonderful life.  She certainly has a lot to be thankful for!

When Barbara agreed to let me share her story on my blog, this is what she said:

" I really, really don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I am truly blessed. By no means has it been easy with Michael gone and Payton's autism ups and downs, but you know there is always someone worse off. I keep that in mind on bad days. It is truly my friends and few family members that keep me going, physically, emotionally and mentally. So right now I am brain cancer free, praising God. " Amen, Barbara.  Praise God.

I hope I have done a well enough job, painting Barbara's story by portraying her struggles that are out-shined with her strength and faith.  But of course, my words could never come close to truly doing her beautiful story justice.  I wish that everyone could be blessed with Barbara as a friend, the way that I have been blessed. So I believe it honestly goes without me having to say, what a strong and beautiful woman Barbara is, and she needs our prayers.

Payton's Birthday Party, 2005

Inside my kitchen at our Christmas party

Me (prego with Ninja), Barb and Becky at Barbara and Michael's wedding; I was her maid of honor
Ninja and I visiting our friends in Texas, 2007


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