2 women named Cancer Freeze recipients

Published 1:10 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Marie Thames of Elba with her children.

Marie Thames of Elba with her children.

Cancer Freeze has announced its second and third recipients for the 10th year of the annual event designed in memory of family and friends who have died from cancer.

The event is held in February at Lake Jackson each year.

Brandy Barger of Milton, Fla., and Marie Thames of Elba have been named the second and third recipients.

Barger, a registered nurse, said up until two months ago, she was living life like any normal 30-year-old should.

“I was dealing with the stresses of life, while hoping to begin a family with my husband and progress further in my nursing career, when some abdominal pain and a trip to the emergency room really sent my life into a whole different direction,” she said.

She was diagnosed in August with stage 4 adenocarcinoma of unknown primary origin with metastasis to the liver and lungs.

Brandy Barger of Milton.

Brandy Barger of Milton.

Barger said she and her husband began trying to conceive and start their family two years ago, but endured fertility struggles.

With IVF the only hope, Barger took her first round, but her health began to decline.

She was taken to the ER for further evaluation after a multitude of symptoms.

Tests showed she had numerous masses in her liver and nodules in her lungs.

Finally, she went to MD Anderson in Houston, where she found a treatment plan, although the primary site of her cancer wasn’t found.

Barger said that physicians at MD Anderson were able to find a specific gene mutation.

“There is currently a clinical trial in progress that would help target my gene and hopefully shrink my cancer masses in my liver and lungs,” she said. “I am very excited about this new plan in my cancer journey and feel I can say I am going in now with a much more positive attitude, more strength and determination to truly fight this cancer to the end.”

Thames is a 34-year-old mother of four.

Her journey with cancer began in June after her children bugged her most of the afternoon to go swimming.

“I finally gave in after it cooled off, and we went out to my momma’s to get in the pool,” she said. “As I got my swimsuit on and straightened my top, my thumb ran across a hard knot in my right breast. My gut told me automatically it was bad. So, I went and told my momma about it.”

Thames made an appointment with her doctor, who ordered a mammogram.

The mammogram reported that the lump and area of concern was due to a previous surgery, she said.

“I met with the surgeon my doctor recommended to fix the issue found during the mammogram,” she said. “This was the second time I had the gut feeling that something wasn’t right with the lump that I found a month and a half earlier. As the surgeon started his exam, he questioned how I knew that there was an issue. I told him about finding the knot back in June.”

Thames said by this point her lump had grown from the size of a BB pellet to the size of a cherry tomato.

She had a fine needle aspiration conducted to see if the lump had fluid.

It didn’t.

“He reassured me that the mass could be benign, but in order to be sure, I would have to have a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound,” she said.

The mammogram didn’t yield good results.

The radiologist told her that the mass was solid and it was changing. Additionally, there were lymph nodes that he was concerned about.

Two or three had fatty centers but one was solid and was different.

The results were that Thames had two different types of breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive ductal carcinoma.

She began treatment in August.

“Treatment hasn’t been easy,” she said. “I am pretty sick for two weeks following treatment. I’m grateful that I have one good week between treatments, rather than being sick for the entire three weeks. I’ve had four of the six treatments I’m scheduled for before I have a double mastectomy.”

The regimen is working, she said.


Both women thanked the Cancer Freeze organization for choosing them as recipients.