Everything happens for a reason, but it's a lesson that Adina Barnes had to learn the hard way.
Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, she was considered young for someone with no genetic predispositions. And as soon as she thought she beat it, the disease popped back up in tests.
"I'm very goal-oriented, and when you have a cancer diagnosis, you're trying to get to the five-year mark of being cancer-free," Adina said while standing on the sideline ahead of the New England Patriots game against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 8.
"My sights were set on getting to that five-year mark, and, well, I didn't hit it on my first diagnosis. I was re-diagnosed at my last appointment before my five-year mark. It wasn't meant to be. I was supposed to go through it all again for some reason."
As of recently, she's started to get some clarity on what that reason is.
After battling cancer through the entirety of her 40s, she finally hit her five-year milestone and took off to Turks and Caicos to celebrate with her loved ones, complete with matching t-shirts, which caught the attention of Trent Brown.
The New England Patriots offensive lineman, coincidentally, was also vacationing on the tropical archipelago in the early days of his football offseason. At the time, neither realized a casual conversation would turn into much more.
"We were all wearing matching shirts to celebrate, and he came over to ask about them," Adina said. "We got into talking and then he brought us over celebratory drinks. We exchanged numbers, he came to our villa to hang out with us the whole next day."
That was on Feb. 13, 2023. Over the course of the next few months, the two kept in touch over Instagram.
With the Saints matchup serving as the Patriots' Crucial Catch game, Trent extended an invitation to Adina to attend as his guest, flying her and her husband from Tennessee to Massachusetts.
"I wasn't a Patriots fan before, but knowing Trent and knowing what kind of man he is, I want to see him do well, and therefore, I'm now a Patriots fan," Adina said.
"I'm so honored and blown away to be here, to feel the environment, and to know what everybody is celebrating because I want to fight for all cancer survivors and those we've lost. This is the most incredible thing that's happened to me in my 10-year journey. I'm blown away, and I want people to take screening seriously because early detection saves lives."
Together, Adina and Trent hope to amplify that message, with Trent pledging $25,000 of his own money towards causes that promote cancer screenings and early detection for women.
In this relationship with the Patriots player, Adina sees the silver lining as to why she had to battle cancer twice.
"I was reflecting on this yesterday – how everything is happening and how I met him on my five-year anniversary," Adina said.
"He's the most kind, gentle soul – totally a gentle giant. It hit me in the hotel yesterday when I was reflecting. What does an angel look like? For me, an angel is a 6-foot-9 body that's 380 pounds. He's just a light in this dark situation who I was supposed to meet."