Going blue for a cause

March 29, 2016

By Jan Jarvis

Linda Cunningham and Daniel Martinez Barrera


These days Linda Cunningham’s blue ‘do makes her look like a character straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

“I’ve asked people which character they think I am ­­– Thing 1 or Thing 2,” said Dr. Cunningham, Associate Professor of Medical Education at UNT Health Science Center.

Cunningham’s motivation for dying her hair during Colon Cancer Awareness Month is deeply personal. Two year ago she lost her husband, Dr. Henry Cunningham, to colon cancer at age 56. He did not know he had a family history of the disease until he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

“This is all about awareness of colon cancer,” Dr. Cunningham said. “This is a preventable disease, but you have to get screened.”

Hoping to raise awareness – and money – to fight the disease, she got her students involved in a fundraiser to support the Colon Cancer Alliance. Members of the Student National Medical Association, Latino Medical Student Association and Nutrition Club have so far helped to raise $6,100.

Second-year Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine student Daniel Martinez Barrera showed his support by dying his brown hair. First he went platinum and then bright blue, a process that took seven tries to get it right.

Since then he’s been called a Smurf and gotten plenty of second looks, but he welcomes the attention.

“I really forget about the blue hair most of the time,” he said. “I hope to not only bring awareness to people around me and strangers interested in my hair, but also use the funds to help someone detect a disease that is preventable if caught in time.”

To complete their fundraising efforts, Dr. Cunningham and Martinez Barrera plan to shave their heads Friday at UNTHSC. They’ll serve Blue Blizzards from Dairy Queen as part of the festivities.

“It won’t be an April Fool’s Day Joke,” Dr. Cunningham said. “This is about educating people.”


FOX 4 featured Dr. Cunningham in this recent story.

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