BALTIMORE - Monica Pence Barlow, the Orioles director of public relations, died early Friday after a battle with cancer. She was 36.
Barlow fought the disease publicly after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2009 despite not being a smoker. She started as a public relations assistant with the Orioles in 2001 and took over as the department’s director in 2008.
Barlow was a spokesperson for the LUNGevity Foundation, the nation's largest lung cancer-focused nonprofit. LUNGevity funds the most promising research for the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer, and provides information, resources and a community to patients and caregivers.
She spoke to ABC2 News about her battle with cancer in 2012 , saying “There are no why did this happen” and “cancer will not define my life.”
The Orioles, who coincidentally open their Grapefruit League schedule today, are also mourning her loss.
“In her 14 years with the club, she was a beloved member of the Orioles family, starting as an intern and becoming Director of Public Relations,” said Orioles owner Peter Angelos in a statement.
“Over the past four and a half years, the work Monica did to raise awareness and funds for cancer research was a testament to her dedication to helping others. The strength and resiliency she displayed by not letting her illness define her was a great inspiration to all who knew her.
“Her loss will be felt deeply by not only our front office staff, but also our manager, players and coaches, with whom she worked on a daily basis…”
Barlow is survived by her husband, Ben, her parents, Wayne and Ramona Pence; her brother, Jonah and her sister, Natalie.
To learn more about the nonprofit Barlow supported, go to: www.lungevity.org .