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Broken Arrow teen dies after battle with cancer

She participated in the marching band and sang at school and church.

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Broken Arrow High School junior Unique Barnes died Jan. 27 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was 16. Courtesy


If her name didn't clue you in, you didn't have to be around Unique Barnes long to recognize it.

The 16-year-old Broken Arrow High School junior and member of the Pride marching band was truly one of a kind.

And that was never more obvious, say those who knew her, than when she was facing adversity.

Throughout the last five years and her battle with cancer, Barnes threw herself into her school activities with enthusiasm and, above all, "kept on smiling," said her father, Harlan Barnes.

"She wanted to inspire others."

Nobody was more inspired than those closest to her.

The second oldest of her parents' five children, Barnes leaves a legacy of courage and optimism, her father said.

"She taught us how to be a warrior and to press on," he said.

"We learned how to face pain and not complain, how to fight to the end."

"Unique did her best to be happy and enjoy her life, and she will be remembered for that."

Unique La'Sha Barnes died Jan. 27 of complications from cancer.

A service was held Friday at Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow. Hayhurst Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Barnes was originally diagnosed in 2009 with stomach cancer and nearly died from a related blood clot in her brain.

Following treatment, she was cancer-free for a year.

But the cancer came back, and in the years since, Barnes underwent more chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, leaving her body heavily scarred.

Yet she continued to attend school when she was able and participated in band, where she played the mellophone and other instruments.

A big highlight for her, her father said, was marching with the Pride in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

"She was in pain then, but she did the 5-mile march, everything," he added. "She was so excited. She loved the Pride."

She was selected to BAHS' 2013 homecoming court.

A gifted vocalist as well, Barnes sang with the school choir and at Rhema Bible Church, where she was a member of the Rhema Varsity Youth.

The family is grateful, her father said, in how the school rallied around her, with students coming to visit her in the hospital.

More often than not, it was they who left encouraged.

Through faith, her father said, he was able in the end "to release her to God."

"He granted me a vision of her in Heaven," he said.

Barnes' survivors include her parents, Harlan and Joyce Barnes; three sisters, Shuntel, Destiny and Jasmine Barnes; a brother, Daniel Barnes; and her grandparents, Walter Barnes and Yvonne Boyers.

A fund has been set up to help the family with medical expenses and other needs. Contributions may be sent to Barnes Family Fund Account, First National Bank, 121 S. Main St., Broken Arrow, OK 74012.

Tim Stanley 918-581-8385

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Broken Arrow High School junior Unique Barnes died Jan. 27 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was 16. Courtesy