By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(March 14, 2019) During Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Ocean Pines residents and business owners, Linda and Michael Dearing, are raising awareness and donations in memory of their daughter, Gina Barnes, to help save lives.
The owners of Copy Central, on Cathell Road in Ocean Pines, will collect donations for Gina’s Comfort Fund at the store throughout the month of March and offer raffle tickets to anyone who donates $5 or more. The raffle winner will receive a free 16×20 print of one of their photographs on canvas. The drawing will be held Friday, April 5.
Barnes was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She battled the disease for almost two years before passing in 2014, and her parents are determined to help save other families the pain they have endured from losing their daughter.
“There’s a misconception that colon cancer hits older people and there’s been a big rise in young women in their 30s being diagnosed with colon cancer,” Linda Dearing said. “If I could save one person from having to go through what my daughter went through, then that’s good.
Gina’s Comfort Fund was created to alleviate stress and financial barriers for individuals and families. The donations go toward providing gas and food gift cards, wigs, acupuncture treatments for the side effects of chemo, and house cleaning services.
In four years, more than $8,000 has been raised and 45 patients have received aid, Dearing said.
“Copy Central has had two customers come forward and state that with our awareness campaign it helped them in finding their cancer and were able to get their treatment early,” Dearing said. “This is just what we are striving for: the awareness and getting help early.”
Barnes’ family created Gina’s Comfort Fund in March 2015 to help with the stress and financial burdens on families after they witnessed the cost of getting sick.
A colonoscopy can help prevent colorectal cancer and the disease is highly treatable when found early. Those with family history or notice changes in their body are urged to schedule a screening.
“Any abdominal cramping, changes or bleeding in bowel movements can be signs,” Dearing said. “She also had a baby within 18 months. The symptoms she was having, she just attributed to having a baby, as a result of the pressures of delivery.”
When Barnes was ignoring colon cancer signs, she was juggling a husband, three children and a full-time job, Dearing said. She was physically active and officiated lacrosse games.
“Every day individuals fight cancer, many of whom have families, jobs and life responsibilities regardless of how the disease and treatments are making them feel physically and emotionally,” Dearing said. “Gina fought her battle with courage and poise while serving as a role model for others fighting their own battle.”
Stop by Copy Central in Ocean Pines this month, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to donate to Gina’s Comfort Fund. All donations are tax deductible and checks can be mailed to: Copy Central, 11065 Cathell Road Berlin, Maryland 21811.
For more information, call Copy Central at 410-208-0641.