Alton "Red" Barrett - 1986
Alton "Red" Barrett and his wife, Evahnell live on 70 acres of
well-kept farm land in Lumberton, Mississippi. Retired since 1986, Red
is an early riser, tending to his land, whether it be with a brush-hog
in his fields, a hoe in his garden or in his feed plots which he uses
to attract deer and wild turkey. When not in the yard, he can be found
out in his large shop working on another project. A former welder, Red’s
shop contains all kinds of welding equipment, including torches, compressors,
valves, pipes, wheels and grinders. Several years ago, he welded a large
cannon that he shoots off on special occasions. It is named "Little
Red’s Big Bertha."
Red’s hands reveal his past -- calloused palms and think strong fingers,
the hands of a working man. As Red says, "I’ve worked hard
my whole life and am proud of what I have accomplished."
Red is well-known and well-liked in Lumberton. He was born just down the
road in Poplarville, Mississippi and has lived in Lumberton for over 50
years. His siblings own multiple acres in the community which contains
elegant homes with large front porches and rocking chairs. It is evident
that all of his neighbors take pride in their yards and homes.
Red’s two adult children also live nearby. His son lives next door
on two acres that Red gave to him and his daughter "lives just down
the road, around the bend."
His skill as a welder provides his neighbors and friends someone they could
go to for help in building or repairing all types of farm equipment. For
his work, Red refused to take a penny. As long as they listened to one
of his hunting stories or jokes, that was payment enough. You see, Red
is a passionate deer and turkey hunter. His home has several deer mounts
with large racks, taken from his property. His freezer is full of deer
meat and turkey. Occasionally, he will stumble upon other "critters."
A few years ago he shot a six foot rattle snake that was nesting in his
Red Barrett with his 6 ft. rattle snake
Red regularly maintains his deer blinds and tree-stands. He would not hesitate
to haul new lumber out into the woods to make repairs. He may be 78 years
old, but his drive and work ethic was that of a man half his age.
Red Barrett had always been in good health. He never smoked tobacco. A
few months ago, he began to feel short of breath and run down. He traveled
to a clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where several chest films were
taken. The films revealed a large left-sided pleural effusion. He underwent
a thoracentesis. Cytological tests on the removed fluid were negative
for a malignant process. His doctors felt it was just an infection, prescribed
antibiotics and sent him home. Four weeks later, the fluid returned, and
Red underwent another thoracentesis. Again, the cytological workup was
negative for malignancy. After three or four more taps, Red’s doctors
admitted him to the Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg for further workup.
On March 24, Red underwent a pleural biopsy as well as another thoracentesis.
Using immunohistochemical staining, pathologists at the hospital diagnosed
Red with malignant mesothelioma. The cell type was sarcomatoid. Of the
two types of mesothelioma (epithelial and sarcomatoid), the sarcomatoid
cell-type is the more serious.
Due to Red’s age, his surgeon was unable to recommend surgery as
a treatment option. He referred Red to the Cancer Center in Hattiesburg,
where Red met with an oncologist who informed him of the possibility of
treating him with Alimta and Cisplatin on a compassionate use basis. Unfortunately,
the doctor had not been approved to administer Alimta but informed the
Barrett family that she would immediately begin the paperwork necessary
to gain approval. The process could take up to three weeks. In the meantime,
she wanted to begin treating Red with Cisplatin.
Red Barrett, April 17, 2003
Before beginning the Cisplatin treatments Red and his son Reggie researched
Alimta on the Internet, and learned that a patient can be disqualified
if they had already received chemotherapy. They informed their oncologist
that they wanted to hold off on the Cisplatin treatments. They wanted
to locate a physician nearby that already had approval to administer Alimta.
Unfortunately, the Barrett family was unable to find a physician close
to Lumberton. Red was beginning to really worry. He wanted to begin some
kind of treatment. He was getting weaker and was on oxygen 24 hours a
day. His feet were swelling and he could feel his chest was full of fluid.
On April 16, Red went back to Hattiesburg for another thoracentesis. After
reviewing his latest chest films, his lung specialist informed Red that
the tumor had grown. He advised Red that inserting a needle into his chest
cavity would risk spreading the cancer. He canceled the procedure and
told Red, "I’m sorry, there is nothing more I can do for you."
That same afternoon, Red met with his oncologist in hopes of beginning
Cisplatin treatments. Unfortunately, after reviewing his most recent records,
Red was told that it was too late, his doctor could not offer any type
of chemotherapy, including Cisplatin.
On April 25, Red was rushed to the Forest General Hospital. He could not
breath. On April 30, Red passed away. He suffered immensely his last few
days, a needless ending to a wonderful life. Our thoughts and prayers
are with his family.
Red's Big Bertha
*** POSTED MAY 6, 2003 ***