SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Linda Barker had already beat cancer twice when she was diagnosed last year with acute myeloid leukemia -- a rare cancer of the blood and bone marrow; after spending the last 18-months battling the disease, Barker is finally back to work with her South Portland Police Department family.
"We are ecstactic to be able to welcome Officer Linda Barker back into the fold!" a Facebook post by the South Portland Police Department said.
"This is my first day and it's kind of surreal," Barker said. "But it's like I never left in a way, too."
It was a diagnosis Barker was determined to beat and one she refused to let hold her back from doing the work that she loves again.
"Everybody was so happy to see me... arms out wide and hugs... they decorated my office," Barker said with tears in her eyes. "Being gone so long and then coming back... it was like coming home."
Barker has been a member of the department since 1981. In her nearly 40 years on the job she has handled criminal investigations, juvenile justice cases and patrol and community policing efforts. She is currently part of the Community Response Unit where she is a liaison officer to the school system.
In addition to working at the police department, Barker also taught criminal justice courses at St. Joseph's College in Standish.
"Linda's a fighter, we knew she was a fighter when this all started, she's put cancer in her rearview mirror twice before already," Lt. Frank Clark said. "There was no doubt -- just in terms of the tenacity and the person that we all know she is -- we knew she was going to get through this and she was going to be just fine."
As Linda jumps back into her work feet first she says she's overcome with emotions. It's a day she never doubted would come but she is so happy it's finally here.
"I can't even imagine not having my law enforcement family, they're tremendous people, they're wonderful people," Barker said. "And I'm feeling very grateful."
Barker is now in remission and just celebrated her 're-birthday', one year ago she received the bone-marrow transplant that saved her life.