Todd and Jonna Barrier with their children, Kenzie, Ellie, Greyson, Harrison, Mollie and Jackson.

Jonna’s journey: Local woman battles Glioblastoma with unyielding faith 

A year ago, Jonna Barrier wasn’t sure if she would live to see her 45th birthday.  

After 10 days of fatigue, severe headaches and facial drooping, Barrier said she knew she had a tumor before she was officially diagnosed. A registered nurse, Barrier recognized the symptoms but put off seeking care because she didn’t want to be right.  

She celebrated her 44th birthday on May 25, 2023; the following day Barrier received confirmation: she had a brain tumor called a glioblastoma.  

Statistics say more than 13,000 Americans are diagnosed with GBM every year. It is the most aggressive type of brain cancer and accounts for almost half of all cancerous brain tumors. It can affect anybody at any age, although it is more commonly found in people aged 45 to 70. It is non-genetic in nature and develops quickly. The reasons for its occurrence are unknown. 

There is no cure for Barrier’s type of brain cancer. Treatments focus on removing or shrinking the tumor to reduce symptoms; however, they are not successful in long-term survival, making Glioblastoma a devastating diagnosis with most patients surviving an average of 12-18 months after diagnosis.  

Just two days after receiving the news, Barrier underwent a four-hour surgery to remove the lime-sized tumor she nicknamed “Tilly.”  

In the face of her prognosis, Barrier is leaning heavily on her faith in God and praying for complete healing. Despite the overwhelming nature of her condition, she said her faith has been her anchor. 

“You go through the steps of grieving – not grieving for my life because I’m not afraid to die but grieving for the things I’ll miss with my kids and them not having a mom and Todd having to do it all himself,” she said, fighting tears. “So, I went through a period of grief for a while, crying all the time but then the kids started to worry about me. If I didn’t have my faith in God and my relationship with Him, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how people go through hard times without Him. 

“I say He gave me a second chance because I really wasn’t where I needed to be with him,” she added. “You’d think with Todd being a minister I would be where I should be. Life got in the way – kids, excuses, this and that – and people are really nice and will say ‘Well, you’re busy and you’re raising your kids,’ and that’s true, but it’s also really important to have a relationship with God and that my kids see that.” 

Through her diagnosis, Barrier said she has grown closer to God and has learned to lean more on her faith.  

“It got me praying a whole lot more, praying more – begging – reading my Bible like I should, and they can see that too, so that’s a good thing,” Barrier said. “We’re praying together more too. Without God I’d probably be in the closet crying all the time.”  

Additionally, Barrier said her support system is second to none.  

Todd Barrier is the former associate minister at the Hartselle church of Christ and now pulpit minister at the Falkville church of Christ. Barrier said their combined church families and support from the community has been amazing.  

“People fed Todd and the kids the whole time I was in the hospital and in Texas. People mowed our yard and put-up rails on our porch. People brought us groceries – even plates and napkins and things you wouldn’t normally think about and just took care of us,” she said. “That’s pretty amazing – you think the world is such a bad place and we see all the negative on TV but there are so many good people too, they’re just quiet about it.”  

Barrier’s diagnosis and the beginning of the fight of her life forced her to cancel a long-anticipated trip to Europe with her daughter, Kenzie. They had planned the trip to celebrate Kenzie’s graduation from Hartselle High School. Instead, Barrier traveled to Houston, Texas to undergo six weeks of intensive chemotherapy and radiation at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  

A year after her surgery, Barrier is now on month nine of maintenance chemotherapy treatment and doing well. Her latest MRI showed no new growth.  

The mother-daughter duo recently returned from their long-awaited European trip this spring visiting Italy, Greece and Paris. Although it took a five-day rest to recover, she said she would do it all over again.  

Barrier said she is prayerful for a long life so she can see and love her future grandchildren.  

“I know God can heal me and I believe in His power,” she said. “Whatever is His will, I will glorify Him.”  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Goodbye to a good boy

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle adds two police officers 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle bomb threat deemed hoax

Editor's picks

At 90, Carl Winton keeps on trucking

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle man with rare genetic condition headed to Grand Ole Opry

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Morgan delegation discusses recent legislative session 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

HU adjusts rates for water, sewer and natural gas services

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Town Council helps Priceville Elementary furnish school 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle City Schools hires three math coaches for 2024-25 school year 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Crestline students rock Alabama Stock Market Games, poster contest

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

New EMA director worries and plans for a living

Falkville

Jonna’s journey: Local woman battles Glioblastoma with unyielding faith 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Sheriff’s Office opens applications for 2024 youth academy

Brewer

MCS Technology Park to host STEAM summer camp for middle school students 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Bridging the gap: Hartselle Historical Society launches guided walk downtown bringing history to life

Falkville

Storm shelter companies see increase in calls for installation

Falkville

Morgan County rabies clinic to be held June 1

Eva

Community class reunion celebrates Morgan schools

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hats off: Class of 2024 graduates from Hartselle High School

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

City adjusts garbage routes for Memorial Day

Falkville

Larry Madison has been a pillar in Falkville for four decades

Hartselle

Hartselle trio nominated for two K-LOVE awards

x