Cancer benefit in BP set for Waseca resident

Published 11:32 am Thursday, January 17, 2013

Friends and family of Gene Barber, pictured here with his daughter Raylee, are holding a benefit for him on Jan. 19 at the Pizza Cellar in Blooming Prairie. Barber was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer in November. Photos provided

By Marianne Carlson

Waseca County News


After being diagnosed with Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer, Gene Barber said he coming to terms with his terminal prognosis.

“It is what it is,” Gene said. “We are hoping for a miracle, but there is no cure.”

Back row: Brian Rutt (son-in-law), Kristin Rutt (daughter), Toby (grandson), Becky (wife) seated: Gene; front row: Landon (grandson), Raylee (daughter)

Gene said the doctors can’t seem to agree on how long he has, but he is guessing nine months to a year, if the treatments work.

In October, severe chest pain sent the Waseca man to the emergency room. His wife Becky said the tests ruled out heart issues, but symptoms continued.

“We thought it might be stress,” Becky Barber said. “We were supposed to be moving and were in process of buying a new house.”

Gene began having trouble typing and using the phone.

“Then one day he was feeling faint at work so he went to go and get a drink out of the water cooler and he couldn’t find it,” Becky said.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a computed tomography (CT) scan of Gene’s head revealed that a large tumor was putting pressure on his brain. He was admitted to the neural intensive care unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital on Thanksgiving morning and that night, a CT scan of Gene’s chest showed a mass in his upper left lung.

Gene, who grew up in Blooming Prairie, was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that was rapidly spreading to his lymph nodes and brain.

Since Thanksgiving, Gene said his life has been a “whirlwind.”

He has already finished two rounds of chemotherapy and 14 whole-brain radiation treatments. Gene is scheduled for another round of chemotherapy next week and will likely have one round per month for a total of six rounds and possibly more radiation.

Gene said he is feeling much better since the treatments began and his symptoms have subsided.

“I had trouble typing, writing and reading, but I am so thankful that I’ve always been able to talk just fine,” he said.

Gene graduated from Blooming Prairie High School, but has lived in Waseca for more than 25 years. He has two grown daughters and one that is almost 3 years old.

To help the family with medical bills, Gene’s friends and family are holding a benefit spaghetti supper from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Pizza Cellar in Blooming Prairie. The supper is a free-will donation, and there will be more than 100 silent and live auction items up for bid including a three-man ice house and an iPad.

Other donations can be made to the Gene Barber Benefit Fund at HomeTown Credit Union in Owatonna.

“We would like to thank all of our family, friends and even strangers for their help, support and prayers,” Becky said. “It is amazing how many people have come out to help.”