Dying mother raises awareness for colon cancer

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Jamila Barefield's doctor recently told her that she has weeks to live.

"I always said God knew the report before I knew the report. So it's okay," Barefield said.

The mother of five was misdiagnosed in 2013. A year later she went in to a D.C. area hospital for an emergency appendectomy, and doctors found colon cancer.

"When they did the surgery and got in there, they realized the tumor was there," said Barefield.

Already in stage four, Barefield went through chemotherapy. Her family moved to Houston so she could go to MD Anderson.

"When I got to MD Anderson, they told me I was cancer free," Barefield said.

But a few months later, the doctor found it was back.

"His exact words were 'I cannot give you chemo. It will kill you faster than the cancer will. So would you like to go into hospice?" recalls Barefield.

"When they gave her the last diagnosis going into hospice, the social worker came out, and I asked 'what do you do for young adults at her age...what type of wish list or things like that do you have for young adults?' They said nothing, and I said 'you do now,'" explained her husband Brian Barefield.

Sharing her story through the Mila's Journey Foundation, they're raising awareness of colon cancer and supporting young chemo patients under 40.

"We're going to put together these bags that have crazy socks, the wristbands, pens, blankets because it gets very cold in chemotherapy. So we're going take those and give them to chemotherapy patients for free," Brian said.

With help from Rebecca Wells and Dana-Susan Crews, Mila's Journey is throwing a 5K race to raise money and cancer awareness.

"I was diagnosed at 43 with stage three colorectal cancer," Wells said. "Like Jamila, I totally always reach out to my friends telling them if you have any symptoms whatsoever, get checked out. It's not worth it. I say a colonoscopy is 10 times better than chemotherapy."

"We really need to get the word out that these diseases are terrible," said Crews. "They affect a lot of young lives."

The second Mila's Journey 5K will take supporters on the trails around Alden Bridge Park in The Woodlands.

Jamila says if her story leads one young person to get checked, her time here is well-spent. She doesn't know how long that is, but she believes it's in the hands of someone beyond herself.

"For me, that's God and He has the final say. They said 10 weeks. He may say 10 years," said Barefield. "So I could very well be sitting here with you next year saying I'm here and you're like 'wait a minute, didn't they tell you you had 10 weeks? What are you doing here?' We're doing the Mila's Journey 5k. Don't you wanna be a part of it?!"

For more information on Mila's Journey 5k CLICK HERE

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