MONROE – Officer Jonathan Barbee’s world came to a sudden halt in April when he heard the news that his wife, Angie, had been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.
To further complicate things, Barbee had injured his back in October 2012 and was out of work for three surgeries, and then placed on light duty until last week. Mounting medical expenses and time off from work dealt a heavy blow to the family.
But help is on the way.
Staff members from the Monroe Police Department are partnering with the nonprofit Have a Heart Foundation of Union County to host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help relieve some of the financial burden that’s fallen on the Barbee family during the past months. The dinner will take place July 13, a Saturday, from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Union County Shrine Club, 305 E. Phifer St. in Monroe. The event also will feature a live auction and raffle giveaway of items from local businesses. All proceeds will go to the Barbee family to help cover medical expenses.
The spaghetti dinner isn’t the first time Barbee’s colleagues have stepped up to the plate in the past several months. Several coworkers donated their sick time to Barbee so he could recuperate from his surgeries. And when the department found out Angie had breast cancer, a team of officers completed a triathlon in South Carolina to raise money for her treatment costs.
“I’m just overwhelmed, speechless, and I just can’t thank them enough for the love and support all these guys have given me and my wife,” Barbee said.
Barbee started working at the Monroe Police Department in 2004, after several years at the Stanley County Sheriff’s Office. A former detective, Barbee now works on the department’s community intervention team, or CIT unit, where he does everything from bicycle patrol to responding to concerns from community members.
“I love (my job),” he said. “The most enjoyable part is the guys I work with. You can’t find any better people. I consider them family.”
Barbee said the hard times began last fall when he ruptured a disk in his back. Over the past eight months, he’s gone through three surgeries and spent a good amount of time out of work or on light duty. His first day back on the squad was two weeks ago.
The came Angie’s diagnoses, with tests showing the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, ribs and spine – a Stage IV classification.
Angie’s oncologist recommended she begin treatment immediately. The Barbees sat down and discussed options, eventually reaching out to Cancer Treatment Centers of America for help. By the evening, the couple had plane tickets to Philadelphia to visit Eastern Regional Medical Center, a hospital that specializes in cancer treatment.
Angie underwent radiation treatments to keep her D12 vertebra from collapsing, as well as her first round of chemotherapy. The couple has traveled to Philadelphia four times for treatments, and Barbee said they’ve already seen signs Angie’s tumor is shrinking.
“When (Angie) said she was sick,” Barbee said, “I told her, ‘We’ll fly wherever, go wherever. We’re gonna get you fixed. Material things don’t mean anything to me anymore.’”
The couple, high school sweethearts since June 1990, will celebrate 20 years of marriage in November and plan to renew vows. Barbee said his favorite thing about Angie is the love she gives to him and their 13-year-old son, Cody, as well as the positive attitude she’s maintained in the face of her diagnosis and treatments.
“She’s an inspiration to me … a good, Christian woman,” Barbee said. “When she found out she had cancer, she has never asked God, ‘Why?’ She always tells me something good is gonna come out of this.”