Promise Me Channel

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Note to Breast Cancer: Don't mess with Thao Barnes.

“My dad met my mom in Vietnam on his second tour during the war,” says Phuong-Thao Barnes. “He went back for a third tour just to find her and marry her. They’re both very strong people. I have the best parents in the world. I’ve always been proud that I’m half Vietnamese, and I love having a Vietnamese name.”

After Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans in 2005, Thao and other Oklahoma police officers used their leave time to go to Louisiana.

“The officers there needed a lot of help,” Thao says. “They were scattered and taking fire, having problems getting supplies. We split in half and went with a Special Forces-commanded guard group afloat doing rescue missions. It was pretty rough seeing all the bodies, the hopeless look about the people, all the pets left behind. We slogged around in that contaminated water for fifteen hours each day, trying to make sure no one was left behind.”

Thao received a Distinguished Service medal and was inspired to join the Coast Guard.

“Their motto is ‘Semper Paratus’ which means ‘always ready.’ These people are out there saving lives, working that mission 24/7.”

She recently sent us this photo with a note saying, "Here is another picture from our last patrol right after I got to shoot and sink a semi-submersible drug boat loaded with 5 tons of cocaine!"

Thao is a shining example of what's possible in a life after breast cancer, and we're so grateful that she's busting out that same hustle to help other women through SGK.

In Promise Me, you'll read more about Thao's adventures, her harrowing battle with breast cancer, and how she's helped Susan G. Komen for the Cure in our 24/7 mission to saves lives. Semper Paratus!