(March 13, 2020) Looking to educate the public and to provide financial support as younger women become increasingly affected by colorectal cancer, the proprietors of Copy Central in Ocean Pines, Linda and Michael Dearing, will be collecting donations this month for Gina’s Warriors Comfort Fund.
The Ocean Pines couple launched the charitable endeavor in 2015 after their daughter, Gina Maria Barnes, 37, lost her battle with colon cancer the day before Thanksgiving in 2014.
Since that time, during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Linda Dearing said the retail shop doubles as a charitable foundation where caring souls share whatever they can budget to help colon cancer patients.
“Usually people come in and they will have written out a check for $25, $50 or sometimes $100,” she said. “In the past, we’ve hit up to $1,000.”
Dearing estimated that since the fund started, more than $20,000 has been collected.
After her daughter lost a multi-year health fight, Dearing joined Gina’s husband, Erik Barnes, and brother, Tony Christiani, to form the Gina Maria Barnes Warrior Foundation in conjunction with the Carroll Hospital Center’s Carroll Regional Cancer Center.
Gina and Erik Barnes lived near Westminster with their three children Alex, Sophia and Jake, the latter born a mere 18 months before the cancer diagnosis.
“The real core of this that is my daughter was only 37 years old,” she said. “My main purpose is to let everybody out there know colorectal cancer isn’t for old people … [it] can hit anybody.”
After witnessing her daughter’s unanticipated financial burdens during the cancer battle, Dearing realized others in similar straits could use assistance.
“It’s a number of things that we cover, but it’s for the patient, not caregivers or family that may be helping them,” she said. “It goes strictly to patients and there’s no kind of corporate expenses.”
Patients undergoing colon cancer treatment in need of assistance are forwarded through Carroll Hospital Center, and must live or work in Carroll County to qualify for help.
The grassroots effort helps patients undergoing chemotherapy to afford wigs, cover the cost of pain therapy or acupuncture treatments, along with expenses related to nourishment, transportation, housekeeping and childcare.
“They found that acupuncture helps with the side effect of chemotherapy,” she said.
Dearing said her daughter’s terminal illness evolved into a two-year cycle of despair.
“We went through surgeries, chemo treatments, then another surgery and more chemo treatments,” she said. “Then it came back in her liver.”
Dearing cautions everyone to be responsive to potential indicators of internal health issues, changes in the bowel system or rectal bleeding.
“Some of the symptoms she was having, like the bleeding, she thought were hemorrhoids from just having a baby,” she said. “She was always a worker, never took off or pampered herself.”
Dearing said a colonoscopy could prevent colorectal cancer, which is both highly hereditary and treatable when caught early.
“Georgetown University had done a study because all of a sudden there was this tremendous rise in young women in their early 30s getting colon cancer,” she said. “The American Cancer Society, because of that study, lowered the age for a baseline screening of a colonoscopy to be from 50 years to 45 years.”
Dearing urges anyone with family history of the disease or who notices changes in their body to schedule a screening.
“Any abdominal cramping, changes or bleeding in bowel movements can be signs,” she said. “Anybody that does have a history in their family, but they may not be having any problems, if they’re 45 they need to get that baseline screening.”
Tax-deductible donations are being collected for Gina’s Comfort Fund at Copy Central this month. Supporters donating at least $5 receive a raffle ticket for a 16 x 20 canvas print of their favorite photograph.
Drop in the store Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or mail checks to : Copy Central, 11065 Cathell Road Berlin, Maryland 21811.
For more information, call 410-208-0641.