Dean Barker: Sitting on a killer

Published on September 11th, 2022

New Zealand sailor Dean Barker has revealed he was battling cancer while training for American Magic’s 2021 America’s Cup campaign.

The former Team New Zealand skipper appeared on TVNZ’s Sunday to share his story of being diagnosed with bowel cancer and receiving chemotherapy over a period of six months, all while keeping his sailing dreams alive.

Barker was 46 at the time of diagnosis and said he felt fit and healthy when he first suspected something was wrong inside his body.

“I started noticing a bit of blood in my stool and didn’t really think a lot of it, but it sort of carried on for two or three weeks,” Barker said.

Barker then mentioned what was happening to the American Magic team doctor, who told him to get checked, just to be sure.

“So less than a week later I’m in for the colonoscopy thinking it was gonna be all good. You wake up, you’re still kind of a bit blurry from the anesthesia… and he says ‘oh look, unfortunately we’ve found a tumor and you’re gonna have to get it removed.”

The following week, Barker was in surgery.

“The tumor was removed and, at the same time, they took 23 lymph nodes, just to see whether or not the cancer had spread through the body at all and, unfortunately, when that came back, it was six of the 23 lymph nodes showed signs of cancer and really the only option at that point was to go into chemo.

“There was a fork in the road and it was always the wrong one, all the way through. Colonoscopy, they said ‘don’t worry, it’ll be fine’, it wasn’t. Then it was ‘oh, we’ll take the tumor’ and they get rid of that and you think that that’s the end of it and it wasn’t, and then it’s the chemo.” – Full report

Here’s the program:

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