BEEKMANTOWN - Carla J. Barnes has been battling renal cancer for the last five years, and, most recently, things have taken a turn for the worse.
The cancer that invaded the body of the 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of three was recently found to have metastasized to her brain, leading doctors to give her a terminal diagnosis.
Barnes' older sister, Darlene G. LaValley, said the news has taken its toll on Barnes and their family.
"She's a very special person in all our lives," said LaValley. "Our relationship as sisters has always been very special. Losing her is like losing my right arm."
"She's my baby sister," LaValley added as she fought back tears.
Though the two have "cried a lot," the two have also "laughed a lot," said LaValley. Even in the face of the grimmest of circumstances, LaValley said her sister continues to find the humor in life.
"That's just how she is," said LaValley. "She's Carla. You'd have to know her to appreciate her. There's never a dull moment with her around. We've always got something we're laughing about."
"I am just wishing it would have been me instead of her," LaValley added, "but it doesn't always work that way, I guess."
Though there's nothing they can do to change her diagnosis, said LaValley, what the family can do is make Barnes' remaining days as easy on her as possible.
"The last three weeks have been the worst," said LaValley. "She's losing mobility. We've done things around the house to make things more comfortable for her."
That includes looking to purchase assistive devices to help Barnes with her day-to-day activities.
"We just want to help her but we don't have the money to do it," said Barnes' mother, Elizabeth Martineau.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1466, 327 Spellman Road, will host a benefit in Barnes' honor this Saturday, Sept. 26, beginning at noon to help do just that. The benefit will consist of a spaghetti dinner, Chinese auction, 50-50 raffle, bake sale and live music.
The dinner, which will cost $6 per person, will consist of spaghetti, salad and a roll. In addition to helping purchase assistive equipment for Barnes, proceeds will also help with her medical expenses.
Those unable to attend the benefit but who would like to send a donation to help Barnes and her family may do so by sending them to 281 Ashley Road, West Chazy N.Y. 12992.
"This has made our whole family cherish every single moment we have with her and live every minute to its fullest," said Barnes' daughter, Melissa Relation.