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“Why are you involved with Hats Off For Cancer?”

Tyler Barker

I am proud to share why I support Hats Off For Cancer. My Mom was diagnosed with a tumor when I was only 9 months old and had a lot of her hair shaved off for her surgery.  As a result, Hats Off is very close to my heart. I am honored to be able to help collect hats for the thousands of children who lose their hair during their cancer treatment and surgery. I am extremely grateful for my health and for being able to pursue my passion of golf.

I have also been a Double Red Cell and Platelet Donor for the past two years.  Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians. A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.  My monthly platelet donation takes a full 2 hours. Knowing I can affect someone’s life in a huge way, through platelet donations and through my work with Hats Off For Cancer, means a lot to me.

Through golf and the events I play in, I have made wonderful connections in the sporting industry and am happy to have received the support from companies like Adidas and Taylormade to name a few.  I am looking forward to Mad Hatter Day 2011 and collecting over 1000 hats myself!

More about Tyler:

Tyler is the first and only Junior Board Member for the international nonprofit program, Hats Off For Cancer.  He has participated and organized several hat drives and is responsible for spearheading the Portland area’s Hats Off For Cancer’s National Mad Hatter Day Event for two consecutive years now.  His first effort found him as the national award winner for the most hats and monies donated. This is not an easy achievement as there were over 100 hat projects nationally entered in the Mad Hatter Day event. He was also featured on the Hats Off website as the national award winner with a photo and story about his very special event.    His commitment continued and was so impressive to the HOC Board of Directors, that they invited him to hold the position of the very first Junior Board member to be named on this nonprofit board.

Tyler started playing golf in his freshman year of high school and his leadership and personable skills earned him the role of captain of the Varsity team in his Junior and Senior Year. After only 6 years of golf, he has since gone on to play on the International Junior Golf Tour. After qualifying for the IGJT Tournament of Champions in Florida in May of 2011, Tyler was selected to play for the IJGT Team USA against Scotland and Canada in St Andrews, Scotland, in the Euro Cup in July 2011.

Sharing the same birthplace as famous South African golfers such as Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen, Tyler hopes to emulate their success on the national playing field. Tyler continues to use his sport to connect with Nike, Adidas, Taylormade, Quicksilver as well as DC Shoes, to encourage them to donate hats to Hats off for Cancer.

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“Why are you involved with Hats Off For Cancer?”

Di Barker

I am extremely proud to serve on the board for Hats Off For Cancer.  My empathy with those who lose their hair through surgery or chemotherapy is very personal for me.  In 1993, at the age of 33 and a mother of two beautiful children aged 9 months and 7 yrs, I was diagnosed with a Pleomorphic Adenoma.  As a child I had suffered from severe headaches and as my Mother had suffered from Migraines, I was treated accordingly.  It was not until I lost my hearing, in what seemed like a flash on an ordinary day, that the doctor’s investigated.

An MRI showcased a tumor the size of an orange encompassing my parotid gland on the right hand side of my head.  It was dangerously close to my facial nerve and was pressing on the parasympathetic nerve at the base of my skull, which the cause of my loss of hearing. To say I was petrified was an understatement for sure!  The doctors told me they had never seen a pleomorphic adenoma as big as mine was.  They surmised it had been growing for at least 25 years!  No wonder those headaches I endured all those years were so painful!

Though it is classified as a benign tumor, pleomorphic adenomas have the capacity to grow to large proportions and may undergo malignant transformation, to form carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma, a risk that increases with time. Although my tumor was “benign” the tumor was aneuploid, which means it can recur after resection and it can invade normal adjacent tissue. Distant metastases have been reported after long (+10 years) time intervals.

Surgery was performed immediately to remove the tumor and I woke up to find my head had been shaved on the right side.  I was grateful to have long hair at the time and was able to conceal the shaved area with a big comb over!  As my facial nerve had been stretched in order to get the tumor out, I experienced facial paralysis for 5 months. Thankfully this was short lived and I continue to have my MRI checkups and am extremely grateful to say they have all been clear.

As a HOFC Board member, I am honored to partner with the “World’s Greatest Bank”, Umpqua Bank in Portland, Oregon. Umpqua Bank has committed to an ongoing relationship with Hats Off For Cancer using their locations at various retirement facilities in and around Oregon.  The wonderful ladies in the knitting clubs at the retirement centers knit and crochet hats all year long.  Umpqua Bank generously donates all the wool and baggies to package the hats in. Each year, on HOFC’s Mad Hatter Day, Umpqua Bank throws a big party at one of the retirement centers for the knitting club ladies and they do a hand over of all the hats the ladies have made.  It is an event I look forward to each and every year. I am always humbled at the warmth and kindness in every stitch in each hat. The messages of hope and love for the children that the ladies include with the hats they have made, are lovingly appreciated by all the children who receive them.

We have received over 1,000 hats in the past 3 years along with donations of just over $1,200.00 from Umpqua Bank and their knitting club ladies!!

More about Di Barker:

Di Barker is the owner and Principal Designer of Abundanceforlife Living & Interiors and has been practicing Interior Design in Portland, OR since 2001.  Di has created functional, elegant and amplified spaces for an amazing array of residential and corporate clients. She received an “Honorable Mention” by the Interior Design Society for the National Interior Designer of the Year Awards in 2011.

Before moving to the Northwest in 2000, Di enjoyed the fast pace of Toronto, Canada for two and half years.  Born and raised in South Africa, Di enjoyed successful careers as a successful Managing Real Estate Broker, as well as in the glamorous world of fashion and design for 18 years.

On behalf of children battling cancer, we thank you, Di, for serving as a Board member and helping Hats Off For Cancer reach more than 1,000,000 children as they fight this disease.  We’re so grateful for your involvement!


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