For the many people whose lives have been touched by Boutte Christian Academy teacher Lisa Barlow, her recent leukemia diagnosis was a devastating blow.
The second grade teacher learned she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a blood cancer, on May 12, with two weeks to go in the school year. Barlow has been a teacher at BCA for the past 16 years and, by all accounts, is exceptionally popular with both current and former students alike.
“She has kept high spirits,” said Lisa Barlow’s daughter, Amber. “She is mentally and spiritually strong. She attributes her strength and determination to her relationship with the Lord and knows that all things are possible through Jesus. The love, care, and support of family and friends encourages her to get through the tough days and nights.”
This is not Barlow’s first bout with cancer. She battled and defeated breast cancer in 2009, and her daughter is among many who believe she’s going to win this fight as well.
“She proved (then) that she is a strong and graceful fighter,” Amber said. “On top of that, she is a beautiful Christian and her faith is strong. We are with her every step of the way encouraging her, loving her, supporting her, and being so very proud of the incredible display of courage she embodies.
“She is and always has been a wonderful example of love, nurturing and caring for her family as her top priority. Now is the time we do the same for her.”
Boutte Christian Academy hosted a blood drive Wednesday for Barlow, who is beloved at the school. Another drive is planned in August.
“We were all very surprised … Miss Barlow has been a wonderful teacher for us for many years,” said BCA administrator Kimberly Babineaux. “She’s a very kind, very gentle lady. You just can’t help but fall in love with Miss Barlow.”
Babineaux said the news hit suddenly.
“She was here with us, teaching in class, and then she received her diagnosis,” Babineaux said. “And then she went into the hospital. It all happened very quickly.”
While Barlow cannot be at the school, Babineaux said the school remains with Barlow in spirit and through its support.
“We’re people of faith, a Christian school,” Babineaux said. “So, we immediately went to a place of prayer, asking that God be with her, that there’s healing for her. A lot of churches have been doing special prayers for her. We have not only asked people to support her (by giving blood) but also through their prayers.”
Barlow, a teacher at Boutte Christian since 2001, has made a positive impact on the lives of many students who passed through her classroom. Though Barlow herself is soft-spoken, former students speak loudly about her popularity.
“She is always, and I mean always, a favorite teacher when students return to school to visit. They all want to go see Miss Barlow,” Babineaux said. “She just has a unique way with her students. They love her and respect her. She’s been such a very, very important part of our staff for many years.”
Fellow teacher Juanita Vick said Barlow is not only a great teacher, but a wonderful friend. The two have been close for 30 years — Vick taught Barlow’s daughter Amber in second grade — and their classrooms at the school are right across the hall from one another.
“We were overwhelmed (to hear the news),” Vick said.
“Because she’s such a sweet person and we hate to see her going through this. We know we have each other as a friend … you could tell her things and they wouldn’t go any farther, and vice versa.”
Amber said all the support has provided a big lift to both her mother and her family.
“BCA and all of her students are near and dear to her heart and feel like a family,” she said.
Donating blood and blood platelets is one way those who would like to help may do so, Amber said. Another vital way to help, she added, would be to consider becoming a bone marrow donor as patients like Barlow will need a bone marrow transplant.
“She will need a lot of blood and blood platelets during her long stay in the hospital,” she said.