St. Jude dad Barry: "You gotta show up"

In a single moment, Luke’s dad Barry realized he’d have to be stronger than he ever imagined he could be.

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  •  2 min

St. Jude patient Luke and his father, Barry

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Not much scares Barry, a seasoned state trooper. But when he learned his 14-year-old son, Luke, had a cancerous brain tumor, he was terrified.

In the moment he told Luke, his son’s face in his hands, both crying, Barry understood he’d need a kind of strength he never thought possible. 

“I knew I had to find something in me that would push him through this,” Barry said. “I needed him to be strong — I needed him to fight — so I needed to be even stronger.”

He’s the dad of seven, ages 8 to 23. He’s loving, hugging and kissing his kids, no matter how old ― or embarrassed.

Dad Joke Battle: Who tells the best dad joke — dad Barry or son Luke?

When Luke was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® for treatment, Barry was there through it all. Six weeks of radiation. Four months of chemotherapy.

They watched funny movies, quoting one-liners for days afterward. Barry told dad jokes: “My wife wants me to stop acting like a flamingo, … so I had to put my foot down.” Luke looked up more: “I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon … I’ll let you know.”

It’s the most important thing dads can do. Be there.

Barry wasn’t all that interested in wrestling, but he showed up for his son Amos’ bouts. He drove hours to watch daughter Evie’s five-minute marching band performance. 

“I want them to know I care about the things they care about,” said Barry, who retired from the Louisiana State Police last year after almost 30 years. He now works as a railroad special agent.

Luke is 17, healthy, and even plays football. His dad doesn’t miss a game.

Barry hopes his kids remember that about him.

“I want them to remember that I was their biggest fan.”

Read more about Barry and Luke here.

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