Houstonian Style: Barefield’s Battle Against Colon Cancer and Mental Health

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 8/9/2019, 1:09 p.m.
Making sacrifices is a selfless act that requires one to put others before their own needs. Jamila Barefield championed herself ...
Brian Barefield

Making sacrifices is a selfless act that requires one to put others before their own needs. Jamila Barefield championed herself as a sacrifice for the benefit of those suffering from colon cancer. Before she passed from the devastating illness, she told her husband, Brian Barefield, "I know that this battle I am facing isn’t just for me. It’s for the others who will watch me go through this with a smile on my face. Jesus was put on this earth to be an example of how we should live, but also as a living sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice if it will benefit others.”

Since Jamila’s death in 2017, Brian has become a colon cancer ambassador picking up where his wife left off educating and raising awareness about colon cancer wherever he goes.

“I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had gone through with Jamila’s passing. It wasn’t until her mother was diagnosed in 2012 that I even knew what colon cancer was. I was very oblivious to what the disease was and how it could be prevented. So now my goal is to spread as much awareness as I can,” said Brian.

One way he does that is through a project that Jamila actually created. Brian recalls one late night Jamila jumped out of her sleep and told him to get a pen and paper. Obliging to her request, Brian began to write the list Jamila rattled off. Blankets, socks, coloring books, journals, inspirational quotes, etc. put all those things in a small carry bag for chemotherapy patients. While undergoing her cancer treatments, Jamila would often get bored and cold. Those items would help bring her comfort so she knew others would love them as well. The socks had an additional meaning other than keeping patients’ feet warm. They were to honor the memory of a friend. Marcel Myles, a friend from Tennessee that also had colon cancer, would pass out crazy colored socks to other cancer patients taking treatments at his facility. The socks became known as Rock the Socks. And with that Chemo Bags were birth. Through the non-profit Milas Journey Foundation, Brian regularly delivers the bags to cancer treatment facilities across the country for patient use.

“I normally do a lot of “Begging with A Purpose,” he said to get the donations needed to fill the bags. “I would love to have sponsors to help and my ultimate goal is to get on the Ellen Show and tell Mila’s story to solicit sponsors.” The community could be very helpful in doing some socks, blankets, journals, drives to help Brian and his mission. He is more than happy to come to pick up donations and he also accepts monetary and other tangible donations.

Brian furthers his purpose with his personal “5Kin50” cross-country run. Dressed in a hospital gown that he wore while his wife was getting treatments and pushing her wheelchair, Brian travels from state-to-state participating in 5K runs to bring attention to colon cancer. Before he leaves a state, he makes sure to come loaded with chemo bags to donate to a chemotherapy treatment facility. He has a goal of doing a 5K in all 50 states.