Hanna Barker Hanna Nickerson Barker

First post: Jul 21, 2021 Latest post: Oct 24, 2021
In early fall 2018, I negotiated a change from a full-time to half-time work schedule. Dipped my toe into retirement. I was looking forward to the extra time that would allow me to travel more, visit friends and family, do the things I had always said I would do once I stopped working.
Best-laid plans... On 10/5/18 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 inoperable pancreatic cancer. Treatment was limited to only two chemotherapy options and radiation. My oncologist estimated I might survive a year, maybe two. It felt like a low, cruel blow.
Over the next two years, I did both chemo regimens as well as radiation. And, I traveled! I checked many places off of my bucket list: Santa Fe; Muir Woods; Olympic National Park. It was a special time. (Check out the photo gallery.)
Then 2020 hit and all of our lives changed. I figured, if the pandemic is going to keep me home-bound, I may as well keep doing chemo. But, after a few months, the chemo’s cumulative side effects — progressive loss of sight at night; mild anaphylactic reaction to chemo; persistently low blood counts — took a toll on me. In September 2020, I stopped further treatment.
Funny thing was — I felt really good and still had places left on my bucket list. So I sold my condo, moved into an apartment, bought an RV that I named Carpe Diem and HIT THE ROAD! 26 states and D.C. in 3 and a half months, 10,000 miles. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I am so grateful that I did it and wouldn’t have traded that time for anything in the world.
My planned scan in April 2021 showed that tumor activity was very high and the cancer had spread to my lungs.
Fatigue is my current enemy so I’ve discovered daily naps — I highly recommend them! Naps give me the energy to be a part of a busy, exciting time for my own family as well as to continue to enjoy the great quality of life I continue to have despite this cancer.
Lily graduated with honors from St. Louis Park High School on June 8. She’ll be attending nursing school in North Carolina. And as Lily goes off to college, Jess will be moving to Atlanta for her job (A move planned long before my cancer diagnosis.) All three of us never thought that I would still be here to share in all the excitement. For that, we are so grateful. It gives me peace to see them move on in their lives.
I’m still independent, tending to household tasks and personal cares myself.
Thanks to you all for your support over the past couple of years. Feel free to text me first about best times to call or visit.

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