My brain tumour won’t stop me helping others

Garden chairs, a wishing well, picture frames and some large sculptures – these are just some of the objects that Barry has made for other people.

The 53-year-old who lives in Karratha was diagnosed ten years ago with a brain tumour in his frontal lobe. He underwent radiotherapy treatment that damaged the lenses of his eyes. It now means he lives with a vision impairment and struggles to focus for long periods of time. He can’t work anymore but spends his time creating and crafting wooden and metal objects to gift to others.

Barry sitting next to his bench and stroking his pet dog
Barry spends plenty of time in his workshop

He used to live in Geraldton but moved to Karratha six months ago and now has to have twice-yearly MRI scans.

“I find it satisfying giving back to others. Everyone is so appreciative of the items I make that it just spurs me on to make more.”

Barry

Brain tumour

Barry was a train driver and working for Rio Tinto in the North-west when he had a seizure. At first he thought he had had an aneurysm, but it was a tumour. He underwent radiotherapy before he found a new job in 2014 with the Water Corporation. He had to give this up when he developed sciatic nerve pain. Barry has to keep his eyes lubricated. It’s hard for him to concentrate and his eyes start to tire and hurt, especially when reading.

“I still have my tumour, and I undergo regular MRI scans. A rare type of food poisoning a few years ago left me in hospital. I had to be resuscitated twice, so I have had my fair share of problems.”

Our Occupational Therapist has been helping Barry with some home modifications so that day-to-day life can be easier. He also receives support with assistive technology with another provider. Barry has a live-in-carer. He enjoys spending time with his three adults sons and their extended family.

“We’ve had quite a few illnesses in the family in recent years. I don’t do self-pity so I have immersed myself in helping others and it has helped to lift my depression.”

Barry’s handywork and craftsmanship

He has become a keen crafts man working on his own and sometimes with his father. Barry trained as a mechanical fitter and his dad is a former chippy.

“We’re a good combination as I’m good at screwing and gluing and my dad bolts and welds.”

Every item goes to support not-for-profits and charities.

Statue of a procupine made out of lengths of wire
Barry comes up with some creative designs
A wooden table made from a slab of wood with wheels underneath
His ornaments and furniture are made out of wood and metal

“Both my parents have instilled in me the importance of looking after people less fortunate. Neither of them grew up with much money. They lived on the coast near Mandurah and in the summer months became respite carers for children living in homes. They’d throw open their doors to the underprivileged.”

Barry has a close friend, Spike, living in a nursing home, who had a stroke that left him without use of one side of his body. It also means Spike can’t speak. Barry crafted a table top for him with photographs of his family members to assist with communication.

“Seeing how much it meant to him to have this personalised table top encouraged me to do other projects. My brain tumour just slows me down a bit, but I’m still capable of helping others.”

Barry

Giving back to the community

More recently Barry has made a big sculpture out of Rio Bar and woven steel. Nemu the Emu was sold for $200. The money went back to the MidWest Disaster Relief Fund (link opens in new window). It’s a not-for-profit providing household items for the less privileged in the community of Geraldton.

A pitch and putt golf course and a bean bag game for a care home in Yandinna are also among his creations. He posts pictures of the items he makes on a Facebook site called Bazz’s upcycled creations (link opens in new window). Any money raised from the sale of the items goes back to support charities and not for profits.

We offer a range of therapies at VisAbility which can be accessed through the NDIS. We service the whole of WA, so why not contact us if you’d like further information? Speak to our Customer Enquiry Team for more.