Greenwood breast cancer survivor talks about visiting all seven continents

By Jacob Musselman

Highest Elevation Hotel viewing Mt Everest, Namche, Nepal 2016.

Not many people ever get the chance to visit another continent than the one they are born on. But Linda Barnes, owner and president of Therapy on Wheels, has visited all seven continents.

Barnes, a graduate of Greenwood Community High School and IUPUI, has been an occupational therapist since 1985. 

In 2011, Barnes went into the hospital with a kidney stone, and from the CAT scan they conducted, they found a spot on her breast. She said if she never went in for the kidney stone, she never would have found the spot and had been able to start treatment so soon.

She was in treatment for most of that year. After finding the spot in January, having surgery in February, Barnes spent three months in radiation.

“It takes a while to get your energy back,” Barnes said.

After beating her breast cancer, she turned 50 years old and she took it as a wake up call.

Cruising The Nile, Egypt 2015.

“It was a wake up call from god and I’m so very thankful,” Barnes said. “I want to see the whole world and know about other cultures and I just wanted to experience that.”

Although she’s been to all seven continents now, it was not her original goal. Prior to her treatment, Barnes traveled a small amount, throughout the United States and Mexico. 

The first trip she went on after beating breast cancer was an African safari with one of her friends. They visited Kenya and Rwanda. Rwanda is known for mountain gorillas and Dian Fossey. She was able to see their campsite and her grave as well.

Grave of Dian Fossey, Gorilla Cemetery Rwanda 2012.

After Africa, Barnes went to Thailand and Cambodia, then to India and Nepal with an old friend from high school. In those countries, Barnes worked with that friend and her travel group doing fair trade work.

In Nepal, she was suppose to take a trip in a helicopter at the base camp of Everest. Due to weather conditions, the flight had to be cancelled.

After Nepal, Barnes went to Egypt, Jordan and Jerusalem. There, she got to take a small cruise boat down the Nile River.

After cruising the Nile River, Barnes went to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. From Australia she went to the Baltic countries and visited Sweden then to Europe.

The final destination on her trip was a visit to the peninsula of Antartica. Her most recent trip ended right as the world shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to going into quarantine, Barnes went to the southern tip of Argentina and took a two-day ice-breaker boat ride to the peninsula to Antarctica.

Antarctic Peninsula- icebergs and our iceberg cutter ship 2020.

“I’m the thankful that I have the opportunity to do it after having breast cancer,” she said.

Barnes estimates she’s been to over 30 countries.

“It’s about experiencing how other people live and knowing how thankful we are,” Barnes said.