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No one knows how you will react until you are told that you have cancer, in that minute your world seems to stop, and all you think and want to know is “how long have I got” when you leave the doctors or hospital you suddenly have a different outlook on life and what is important, the ONLY IMPORTANT STUFF you need to think about are FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
My name is Carl Barnard and I am 59 years young, I am a badminton coach and have been for many years now, I was first diagnosed with lung cancer on Christmas Eve 2013 (think they would have waited)
I had half of my left lung removed in an 8-hour operation in February 2014, the surgeon knowing I was a coach carried out my operation by keyhole surgery, for which I am still very grateful as I only have a small scar and I was home after 4 days and the recovery went well. I was back playing and coaching after 2 months, which was remarkable according to the doctors.
In August 2017 I woke one morning with an ulcer on the underneath of my tongue, after trying well known gels nothing seemed to happen, so off to the doctor only to be referred to see my dentist. Trying to get an appointment with them took 7 weeks, by now it had grown, the dentist took one look and referred me to hospital straight away, so off I went. In January 2018 after having many tests and scans, it was confirmed that I had cancer on my tongue and was taken into hospital for immediate surgery. The operation this time took 9.5 hours, they had to remove the front half of my tongue and also had to do a dissection of my neck (cut from ear to ear) and they removed 54 lymph nodes, 2 of which had signs of cancer.
After this operation I had to stay in hospital for 3 weeks as I had 4 drains in my neck and was not allowed to leave until they stopped, then they told me that because the 2 nodes had cancer it was in my best interest to have radiotherapy to make sure all was ok. Unfortunately for me this meant they removed all my teeth due to the damage that could be caused by radiotherapy and I had to have a feeding tube inserted into my stomach in case of any swelling in my mouth, so this meant another 2 operations. These went well and I was only in for 2 days on each occasion.
The R.T was daily for 6 weeks and I was bolted down to a table with a mask that meant that I could not move a muscle.
The R.T finished on FRIDAY 13th (had to be me, didn’t it) the following 2 weeks have been so painful due to the swelling and burns caused by the R.T, but it is now May and I am on the road to recovery. The burns on my neck have almost gone and the swelling in my mouth is going down daily and I am hoping to be eating in the next couple of weeks, as feeding through the tube is not much fun.
I mentioned at the start that family and friends are all you need, my partner Teena has been my rock and has gone through this twice with me now, never complaining and travelling to London daily to see me whilst I was in hospital and my daughter and son in law the same which took them over 5 hours each time to drive, but I got to see my 2 year old granddaughter, so I was very grateful to the pair of them and I’m not one for being able to express my feeling in words, but I’m sure they all know how much they mean to me.
I feel so lucky and blessed that I seem to have so many friends that care. The places where I coach have been so understanding it is impossible to put into words, after being diagnosed and told that I wouldn’t be able to work for 6 months, I thought that they would just let me go, how wrong I have been.
At Redbridge Performance centre the head coach Martin Lawrence made sure that all the classes that I coached would be covered for me until my return no matter how long it takes and has been in touch constantly checking up on my progress.
At Emerson Eagles Badminton Club the head coach Amanda Austin did the same for me and has also been in touch constantly checking up on me and reassured me that my place is there when I am ready to go back.
Even my old badminton club that I left several years ago sent me flowers when they heard about my predicament, this means so much to me on a personal note and just proves that all you need is FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
On a good note Martin,with some help from Amanda has organised a charity day at Redbridge Sports Centre on 14 July on my behalf, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Trust. A parent and child tournament, an exhibition from England players is hopeful, a raffle and other fun things going on.
I have suffered this horrible disease and have experienced first-hand the wonderful support that Macmillan provide. I would like to think that I am a bit tough and my attitude has always been “I’M KICKING YOUR BUTT CANCER” which I believe has also got me through on both occasions, but I know that if I need them I have my family and friends and Macmillan are on the phone at any time.
So to wrap it up, I am hoping to be back coaching at the end of May or first week of June and I have an appointment with the dental surgeon on the 26th June to see if I can have some nice new shiny dentures (the answer better be yes or else).
Article written by Carl Barnard.
I have known Carl for many years and he really is one of the most inspirational people I know. He is always so positive and even through the days that must have been very dark he still managed to find something to laugh and smile about. Even in this article he finishes with the bit about shiny new teeth. That is just so Carl and we are all looking forward to welcoming him back to our coaching team in a few weeks. If you would like to go along to the fundraising day or donate to this please contact badminton@RSLonline.co.uk and help them raise lots of money for Macmillan which everyone knows is a really worth cause. Please also see Carl’s Just Giving page to read more about him and the fundraising day.