BALTIMORE (WJZ) - After a long battle with lung cancer, the Orioles director of public relations died Friday morning at age 36.
Monica Pence Barlow was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in September 2009.
"I was blown away by the diagnosis. I was just 32. I had never been a smoker, I had no family history of cancer, and I had always maintained a healthy lifestyle," she wrote in a an article posted on American Association for Cancer Research last year.
Barlow has been the O's PR director since April 2008.
Majority owner Peter Angelos released the following statement:
"It was with deep sadness that I learned of Monica's passing this morning. 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. 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. On behalf of the club, I extend my condolences to her husband, Ben; her parents, Wayne and Ramona Pence; her brother, Jonah; her sister, Natalie; and her family and friends."
The team plays its first exhibition game in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Friday. Manager Buck Showalter broke the news to players before their drive.
He choked up when asked to say a few words about Barlow at a Friday morning presser, according to an article posted on MASN.
"I tried to text her every night before I went to bed," Showalter said. "Today was the first time I didn't get a returned one."
He released the following statement:
"We lost a feather from the Oriole today. Monica embodied everything we strive to be about. Her passion, loyalty and tenacity set a great example for everyone in the organization. She was so courageous in continuing to do her job the last few years despite her pain. This is an especially tough day for those of us that worked with her on a daily basis. It was a blessing to have her in my life. She made our jobs so much easier. We won't be able to replace Monica. We will only try to carry on. I am going to miss her as a colleague and a friend. She was a rock."
Barlow interned with the Orioles in 1999 and spent a year as PR assistant with the Richmond Braves.
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