Spirit of Acadiana: Camden’s cancer journey

Jessica Wong

“Not only has the journey been transformative for me,” begins Lafayette’s Pat Barnard, “but I think it’s given us an opportunity to reach out and inspire others, to let them know that the situation is what you make it. It’s as simple as that: you have the hand, you play […]

“Not only has the journey been transformative for me,” begins Lafayette’s Pat Barnard, “but I think it’s given us an opportunity to reach out and inspire others, to let them know that the situation is what you make it. It’s as simple as that: you have the hand, you play it, you don’t change the cards, you don’t fold ’em. You don’t give up.”

The words “don’t give up” are followed each and every day by Pat’s son, Camden Barnard. Almost three years ago – September, 2018 – the Prairie Elementary fourth-grader was diagnosed with leukemia. Camden finished his treatment in November; he was declared “cured” and all was well… until March 9th of this year.

“The tough part is, we were supposed to be normal again,” recalls Pat. “On March 18th, he was going to play his first baseball game, ever. Because we’re normal again. Instead, I had to tell him he had cancer again.”

And for Camden that resurrected old wounds. Old pains…that in a perfect world, a 10-year old should never have to battle. “And tell him his hair was going to fall out. And tell him he’d have to take steroids which he hates because he’s done it before. And he knows he hates to have his hair fall out because he’s done it before. And we had to tell him he couldn’t go back to school anymore. And we had to tell him he’d be in the hospital for a long time.”

It was back to New Orleans Children’s Hospital, where there’s lots of love from his father and stepmother, and his mother and stepfather. And there’s a new plan – first getting the cancer back to remission and then hopefully, a bone marrow transplant.

And there’s this: more support back home. During the recent Running the Track for Camden, members of the Prairie Elementary family logged 582 laps for Camden.

Said some of the students: “I’m running for Camden, I’m running for Camden”. And then there was one boy who added, “Camden, I’ve never done this before, but I’ll do it for you!!”

“Be A Match” will host a DNA collection event this Saturday to find more people who can potentially become bone marrow donors. The event will take place in the parking lot at 100 Asma Boulevard in Lafayette from 11-2.

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