COMMENT: Let’s hear it for Karen

Karen Barnett (left) with her mum Cheryl and her aunty Anne.


The name Karen has, through widespread online memes and jokes, become the name given to a female who is entitled, obnoxious and angry.

I would challenge anyone who uses this name in a negative manner as the Karen I know is far from these memes.

In fact, I would go further to challenge that we should all change the way the name is viewed because, if all this has stemmed from one negative Karen, then surely my Karen is living proof that although there are a few bad eggs (as there are with all names), there are those who stand out equally as much but in a positive and uplifting manner. I would be proud and honoured if someone called me Karen today.

Let me introduce you all to my Karen Barnett. Anyone who knows her would agree with me that Karen is full of life. She brings out the best in everyone around her. Karen is loyal, determined, caring, kind, passionate and always puts others before herself.

At the start of the year, Karen’s life took a drastic change in direction. At the relatively young age of 38, Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer with secondary cancer in the liver.

Anyone in her situation, I am sure, would have fallen into a depression, thoughts of “why me?” would have run through your head… but not my Karen.

Instead her main concern wasn’t her own life but of those she loves around her. Instead of wallowing in self-pity (which, in this circumstance, would be totally fair enough), Karen set up a Facebook group for her family and friends as a support page for each other.

Her concern wasn’t about how she was going to cope with this unplanned (and unwanted) journey but she was (and still is) concerned about how we, her family and friends, will cope.

Karen rocking a pink wig for a random home dance party because why not celebrate life in a pink wig?

This journey Karen now faces has only just begun and her biggest goal is not centred around her but rather centred around getting the word out to other women under 40 that we need to be more self-aware of our bodies.

As a mum who is under 40 myself, I can 100 per cent see where she is coming from. It’s not even that we think “it won’t happen to me” but it’s actually the reality that life is busy so we tend not to think about it at all.

Karen is an incredibly strong woman who I’m honoured to know. She’s fighting her battle now and she’s fighting it with determination, love and a huge amount of life.

It seems that there is nothing, not even cancer, that can be thrown at her to make her stop living her best life.

To all those women under 40…know yourselves, notice changes, get checked!

So the name Karen to me (and many others) means someone who is brave, courageous, strong, passionate, loving and living with everything she has.

  • If you wish to contribute to Karen’s battle, her close friend Nicola Laird has set up a Givealittle page to pay for Karen’s ongoing cancer treatment costs including chemo and target therapy drugs called Taxotere, Herceptin and Pertuzumab , as well as help cover the additional costs associated with this huge change in her life. Here’s Karen’s page.

Marie Brooke and Karen Barnett became friends when they attended Howick College. Marie lives in the Howick/Somerville area.