Team Barbie Walk at Hamilton Spring Sprint

Team Barbie Walk at Hamilton Spring Sprint

To say the past decade has been a challenge for 66-year-old brain tumour survivor Barb (Barbie) Gilbert is an understatement. After several years of searching for an answer to the severely declining health she was experiencing, an MRI eventually uncovered the cause: a large brain tumour. Even more complicated was the rare location and size of the mass.   

The next few years would bring extreme change into Barb and her family’s lives. Previously the owner and CEO of a well-established communications and security business, Barb and her husband had to shut its doors once problems arose with Barb’s brain tumour treatment. What began with a frightening surgery statistic (Barb was told she’d only have a four per cent chance of making it through the grueling brain operation and could possibly awaken as a quadriplegic), was followed by almost two years of managing infections and health complications on a daily basis. Barb had to re-learn everything, including buttoning a shirt, tying a shoe, brushing her teeth, and walking. 
Today, Barb remains an avid sewer and cook, even though she can’t eat solids or drink anything ever again; she makes it a priority to keep her spirits up by keeping busy. “It’s been a struggle to get where I am today, but I guess it wasn’t that bad considering all I’d been through; I keep my days full,” she explains. It’s because of Barb’s daughter, Jennifer, that the family is connected to the Hamilton Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk), after she heard about it on their local news. This year’s May 2nd event will be the third time Barb walks in the fundraiser, and Jennifer’s fourth.
Barb and her loved ones join the Hamilton Spring Sprint as “Team Barbie,” where they will walk to show their support for brain tumour survivors and patients across the country just like Barb. Although the brain tumour was non-cancerous, the effects of the mass and its treatment left Barb with serious impediments like a permanent feeding tube, brain shunt and tracheostomy for breathing. Despite this, Barb doesn’t let her health bring her down. “I’m glad to be alive and we just go from there,” she explains. “Even though I know this is only going to get worse for me – I’m 66 after all – I take things one day at a time.”
Thank you Barb for sharing your story and supporting Spring Sprint, the movement to
end brain tumours is stronger thanks to you and your family!

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Story posted: April 2015

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