Locals dig in to help girl battle cancer

KINGSTON — A little girl in California diagnosed with cancer is receiving support from a group of people she barely met last year in the Kingston Cove Yacht Club.

KINGSTON — A little girl in California diagnosed with cancer is receiving support from a group of people she barely met last year in the Kingston Cove Yacht Club.

Natasha Barsness, the granddaughter of KCYC past commodore Daryl Barsness and his wife Peggy, made quite an impact on club members earlier this year when she was visiting during a Super Bowl party. Among those touched by the young girl’s plight was KCYC member Terrilynn Nicklin-Griswold.

“She was just a bundle of energy,” Nicklin-Griswold said.

Natasha lives in Cathedral City, Calif. with her parents Russ and Stephanie Barsness and was diagnosed in June with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. NHL is cancer of the cells of the lymphatic system.

When Nicklin-Griswold heard the family’s medical insurance was running out due to the growing medical bills, she felt the urge to do something to help.

In lieu of the club’s monthly cruise, Nicklin-Griswold has organized a spaghetti feed and night of entertainment at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Kingston Cove Yacht Club. All proceeds will benefit Natasha.

“I thought it would be a good thing to do,” Nicklin-Griswold said. “(Daryl Barsness) and his wife have been really working hard at the yacht club so I thought this was something we could do for them.”

Nicklin-Griswold said she would like to raise at least $1,000 and figures it shouldn’t be that hard if there is a big crowd donating $15 apiece.

She also said she knows the financial hardship that comes with an ill family member, as she saw what leukemia did financially to her cousin’s family.

“I know what a drain it can be,” Nicklin-Griswold said.

When Natasha became ill, her parents thought she just had a swollen throat. A common symptom of NHL is the painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck. However, after Natasha saw three doctors, her father knew something was still wrong and she was soon diagnosed with NHL.

Natasha# has chemotherapy every week and has two tubes in her stomach for the treatment, Daryl said, noting she also receives radiation of the brain.

“(Russ) has pretty good insurance but insurance doesn’t cover it by any means,” Daryl said.

Aside from her Kingston connections, there has also been California-based support through her father’s job as a firefighter and paramedic. A retired firefighter there has been producing and selling T-shirts to raise money to help offset the medical costs.

When the firefighters found out Natasha would be going through chemotherapy, every one of them, including the chief, shaved their heads. Now the support for the California girl has spread north to her grandparents’ neighborhood.

“They predict she will be fine,” Daryl said. “Of course, they don’t know, but they look at the bright side of things.”

Daryl said one of his neighbors had the same cancer but has been in remission for a year and is doing well.

“Hopefully, she will (too),” he said. “She’s a left-handed, red head. She’s full of it — you hate to see her slow down.”

For those who cannot attend but would like to donate money, donations can be sent in care of KCYC, P.O. Box 81, Kingston, WA 98346.