PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Something has been missing at spring training this year. Longtime Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow hadn’t been with the team, and sadly, shockingly came the news that she died after her long and courageous battle with cancer Friday morning at 36.
Monica Barlow was good at her job, very good. She was a favorite of manager Buck Showalter and the many media members she had to deal with. Showalter was so affected by her death that he couldn't talk about it before Friday's game.
But, it’s not her job that she’ll be remembered for.
It’s the public battle this very private person waged against cancer.
Monica was a private person, but she was able to use her position to share the awareness of her disease.
For 4 ½ years, she battled. At the 2012 baseball Winter Meetings, Monica joined a number of other people in public relations at MLB who had the disease in the “Stand Up to Cancer” campaign.
She willingly gave interviews about the disease and her fight and remained relentlessly optimistic.
Last year was a good year for her. She looked terrific and was her usual upbeat self. At last September’s “Lungevity” walk at Oriole Park, she was, of course, a top fund raiser and took the microphone to tell the participants about her story.
I last saw her at the Winter Meetings, and she seemed fine, and last month in one of her occasional updates let her friends and colleagues know that she was getting a new treatment in Nashville.
She was too ill to attend FanFest a few weeks back, and never got back to work.
I learned a lot about the disease from Monica. In May 2012, we spent several innings of the famed 17-inning, Chris Davis game talking about the procedure she was about to have.
Monica missed several weeks then, but reveled in the team’s success in 2012. She was hale and hearty for the postseason and beyond.
She knew that whatever treatment see had would work only for a short time, hoping that she could live long enough to find a drug that worked. Unfortunately, she didn’t.
Monica Barlow was an intern for the team after her graduation from William and Mary in 1999, and after a stint with the Richmond Braves, came back to the team in 2001. She became the team’s PR director in 2008, and leaves behind her loving husband, Ben, and a large family.
Most important, she leaves a legacy of courage.