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Faith, family and clinical research: Carson Barnes' story

Carson Barnes was able to push through his leukemia diagnosis with faith, family and clinical research.

May 20, 2020
Carson Barnes and his girlfriend riding an atv.

At the age of 16, Carson Barnes was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. A cancer diagnosis at such an important age was difficult to comprehend. However, the teenager relied on three things to push him through: faith, family, and clinical research.

“I knew it wasn’t in my hands anymore. It was up to God,” Carson said.

At the beginning of treatment, Carson’s physicians approached him about the idea of participating in clinical research that could improve his survival rate.

“One of the reasons Carson was recommended for a clinical trial was because his family was very involved in his care,” said Dr. Vinod Gidvani-Diaz, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “Clinical trials are lengthy and involve frequent monitoring and a daily medication schedule. A support system like Carson’s made this approach a success.”

Carson Barnes in a hospital bed.
Carson during treatment at Methodist Children’s Hospital

Carson says the decision to participate was an easy one. He liked the idea of his survival rate improving, but most of all, he was excited to be able to help future cancer patients.

“I thought to myself, ‘if I can do anything to help others and improve cancer research why wouldn’t I?”, he said.

The clinical trial added investigational drug, bortezomib, to his care plan. The treatment was difficult. He would spend three years fighting and although there were highs and lows along the way, Carson pushed on.

Carson is now a 19-year-old college student. He completed therapy in March 2020 and is now in remission. He says his experience made him realize his future.

“Before all of this happened, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be in life. Now, I’m going to school to be a child life specialist,” he said. “On the hard days, when I didn’t want to be at clinic, my child life specialist was always that smiling face there with me.”

Carson looks forward to being able to stand by a child’s side and help them through something he has experienced first-hand. For now, his advice to others diagnosed with cancer is never give up.

Carson Barnes and his family.
The Barnes Family

“If you have a religious background, pray a lot and give it all to God. Whenever your back is against the corner just keep fighting, because there will always be a next day,” he shared.

He says talking things through with a support system, in his case his parents, brother, sister and girlfriend, helped tremendously.

The Methodist Children’s Hospital clinical research team demonstrates an unwavering commitment to children with cancer and leads the region in top enrollments on Cancer Oncology Group (COG) studies. Methodist Children’s Hospital is proud to be able to provide options for patients in a safe and timely manner.

May 20, 2020
Methodist Children's Hospital

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