Grimsby supermum has incurable disease but still puts everyone else first
COULD Julie Barker be Grimsby's supermum?
Her family describe her as "an angel without the wings", but modest Julie brushes it off as "just doing her job".
Last month, the 44-year-old was diagnosed with the incurable Primary Billary Cirrhosis (PBC) disease, which means she will one day need a liver transplant.
But this hasn't stopped her putting everybody else's needs first.
When her symptoms – which include tiredness, itching, indigestion and joint pain – started five years ago, they coincided with her father Paul Devaney, being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Debilitated by her own undiagnosed illness, Julie left work as a Cambridge Park Special School teaching assistant to look after him and he has since been diagnosed with prostate cancer and a brain tumour as well.
A year after she left work, her grandfather died of mesothelioma, and her grandmother, who has crippling arthritis also needed Julie's caring support.
The devoted daughter also looks after her mother, Christine, 67, and two-year-old grandson, George, whose Mum Katie returned to work full-time as a teaching assistant.
And is if that wasn't enough, her son Lewis, 21, was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome in 2010, an undetected heart condition which could have killed him at any moment. He needed urgent heart surgery and as usual, Julie soldiered on, supporting her family throughout.
Lewis and his brother Oliver, 17, are both now serving as Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the Army.
Despite fearing the future, Julie will not stop being a devoted mum, wife, daughter, grandmother and grandaughter.
And it is this selfless attitude that led daughter, Katie, 23, to nominate Julie, of Brock Close, Scartho, for the Grimsby Telegraph's Mum of the Year competition.
Such is Katie's love for her mum, she wishes she could give up her own liver and save her from any more discomfort.
Katie said: "Everything she does day in, day out, is to benefit others. Nothing is for herself and I want to show her that we are all here for her and that we are so grateful for everything she does.
"As mum does, she is still marching on through and helping others despite this devastating news."
Julie added: "The diagnosis was a shock, I feel like I have hit a brick wall, there is nowhere else to look, I am not going to find a magic cure.
"It is lovely Katie has nominated me, but I see it as doing my bit for the family, I don't deserve anything, I just make sure everyone is okay.
"We have had a rough time these five years but we have to be positive. At least we are getting it all out the way now, we still have so much to look forward to."