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Barry Myers ’19 Achieves Research Success Amidst Cancer Battle

April 02, 2019

By: Mallory Glenn ’19

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Shortly after Barry Myers’ ’19 father passed away when he was around 11 years old, his coach gave him a coin with the above serenity prayer on it. His coach had told him that later, when he was older, the prayer would make more sense. The coin was misplaced for years until Barry, an exercise science major of Fairview Park, Ohio, consequently found it during another difficult time in his life; he now lives by this motto. 

“There are going to be challenges in life, and it’s important to focus your time and energy on the things you can do,” Barry said. “For me, staying positive is what helps me persevere.”

In addition to his father’s passing, Barry has also dealt with personal cancer battles. In September 2014, soon after beginning his freshman year at Mount Union, Barry was diagnosed with stage III testicular metastasized lung cancer.

The doctors determined that the mass on his testicle was cancerous and had spread to his lungs through his lymph nodes. Three days after being diagnosed, Barry had surgery. He also had three rounds of chemotherapy which occurred over nine weeks with more than 30 treatments. After Barry completed the surgery and all of the chemotherapy treatments, the tumor in his testicles was gone and the size of the tumors in his lungs was significantly reduced.  

“I received such overwhelming support during my cancer battle,” said Barry. “And not just from my friends and family; the entire Mount community rallied to support me.”

An unofficial UMU student organization called Raider Relief heard about Barry’s health issues and asked if they could help. Barry told them that the only thing he wanted was to raise awareness. So, the group spearheaded an awareness campaign called “Balls 2K14”. Within two weeks, more than a thousand members of the UMU community wore—for a full day­—hand-made necklaces of purple yarn, two ping-pong balls, and a card reminding males to “check ’em.”

“What stood out to me about the campaign was that Barry’s first thought was ‘awareness’ when he was asked what he needed,” said Mark McConnell, associate professor of marketing and previous unofficial advisor of Raider Relief. “That answer reveals humility and a deep concern about other people.”

Barry’s humility and positive attitude are not the only traits that set him apart, however. Barry has conducted research under Dr. Lonnie Lowery, associate professor of exercise science, and Dr. Ron Mendel, professor and director of exercise science. Lowery reflected on his experience working with Barry.

“Barry’s work ethic, problem solving, perseverance, and positive attitude set him apart,” said Mendel. “I have never had a student work so consistently hard and be so dedicated until Barry. I know that Barry will be successful in whatever he does simply because of who he is.”

And indeed, Barry has already found a lot of success during his undergraduate career; he has been recognized nationally and internationally for his academic research.

“Barry has assisted me with my research interest centered around sport analytics which uses information such as heart rate and GPS data to evaluate athlete training loads and readiness to participate in an optimal physical state,” said Mendel. “This is the first time this type of research, as well as Barry’s own research involving caffeine and a non-traditional delivery method (gum) for sport performance, has been completed at UMU.”

Barry attended the Mid-West American College of Sports Medicine conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan two times and presented at the 21st European Nutrition and Dietetics Conference in Dublin, Ireland during the summer of 2018. Barry also moderated the conference and received best poster presentation along with a colleague, Jesse White ’18 a biology graduate of Alliance, Ohio. Barry was also accepted to present a poster at the Annual American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, Florida as a first author. 

“It’s phenomenal that Barry has presented his coffee research internationally and even helped moderate that meeting in Dublin,” said Lowery. “Undergrads just don’t do that!” 

However, Barry’s academic achievements are not at the forefront of his mind these days. In late 2018 doctors noticed a new mass in the lower lobe of his lung. Since then, he has had scans and blood work done to determine what this “new” spot is. After six months of monitoring, Barry will go to the pulmonary unit to meet with doctors who will tell him whether the mass is benign or malignant. 

“It has been hard to stay focused on research, classes, and my social life with this in the back of my mind,” said Barry. “But I’m staying committed to my routines and remaining positive. Whatever happens, I am ready to fight this. I beat cancer five years ago, and I know I can beat it again.” 

Upon hearing about Barry, the Regula Scholars, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Kappa Tau, and some other students created a day of awareness based off of the “Balls 2k14” campaign, aptly calling it “Balls 2k19.” On Friday, March 29, five years after the first campaign, more than 1,000 Mount Union students, faculty, and staff again donned the double ping pong ball necklace in honor of testicular cancer awareness. 

“It may be embarrassing or even weird to check yourself or to tell your doctor that an issue might be happening, but it is important for self-examinations and to keep up with regular doctor visits and checkups,” said Barry. “Most young people think they are not at risk for cancer, but this is not the case—if you have even the slightest suspicion that something might be wrong, get checked!”

After graduating, Barry plans to save money and continue studying for the GRE before applying to graduate school for exercise physiology. He also intends to continue with his own personal research about caffeinated chewing gum and soccer performance. Barry’s favorite activity is riding his bike, so his future goals also include riding the Great Divide from Canada to Mexico through the Rocky Mountains. 

“Barry has had every reason to call it quits and choose a different route, but he has not done so,” said Mendel. “He works a ridiculous amount of time off-campus to help pay for school, takes maximum credit-hour semesters, is active in research outside of his studies, and participates in clubs. All of this makes me proud and in awe of what Barry has accomplished through hard work and perseverance. He is an inspiration.”

All of this makes me proud and in awe of what Barry has accomplished through hard work and perseverance. He is an inspiration.

Dr. Ron Mendel Dr. Ron Mendel Opens in new tab