In Amanda’s Memory: Filling the Gaps in Pediatric Cancer

More than $126,000 has been raised in honor of Amanda Sarmiento to support osteosarcoma clinical research

Cancer
Amanda and Joey Sarmiento

More than $126,000 has been raised in honor of Amanda Sarmiento (pictured) to support osteosarcoma clinical research driven by Paul Kent, MD, pediatric oncology physician at Rush.

In her late 20s, Amanda (Sprenger) Sarmiento battled osteosarcoma for nearly three years. The condition generally can be successfully treated through surgery, but that wasn’t an option in Amanda’s case. Her tumors were located deep in her pelvis and tailbone, making her case extremely risky for surgery.

Few cases like Amanda’s come through the health care system. Research and effective treatments have been particularly scarce, as well as funding to support such efforts. But thanks in part to the generosity of Amanda’s family and friends, one physician at Rush is changing that.

Paul Kent, MD, a pediatric oncology physician at Rush, played a large role in Amanda’s care before she passed away, providing treatment and guidance through chemotherapy sessions, radiation and surgeries, as well as helping to navigate critical decisions made by Amanda and her family. With osteosarcoma more commonly found in children and young adults, older patients like Amanda benefit most from the protocols and expertise of pediatric oncologists. Before her passing, Amanda participated in Kent’s research study to find better treatments for people facing the same challenges as she did. 

“She wanted to make a change,” said Kettie Sprenger, Amanda’s mother. “She had tremendous faith in Dr. Kent and his work, and I’m certain she would be pleased to see how it has all progressed.”

A special bond

Since the Amanda Sarmiento Memorial Fund was created about eight years ago, more than $126,000 has been raised from nearly 3,000 donations in support of Kent’s efforts. This funding has allowed 55 students to perform sarcoma research, including residents and fellows, as well as high school and college students from groups underrepresented in medicine. The research has resulted in eight published manuscripts, with seven additional reports in progress and presentations made all over the world. 

“Her passing was especially hard for me. She had become a real friend, as did the rest of her family,” Kent said. “The opportunities offered by Amanda’s fund will be life-changing for both patients with osteosarcoma and young future doctors who have been inspired to take on these challenges.”

The relationship between Kent and the Sarmientos and Sprengers continues today. They remain in touch about research efforts and participate together in ongoing fundraisers for Amanda’s fund, including golf outings. 

“The best we can do as non-scientists and non-medical researchers is to support those who are doing this important work,” said Joey Sarmiento, Amanda’s husband. “Everything Dr. Kent is doing with this funding is exactly what Amanda had hoped would happen. He’s been by our side since she was diagnosed and continues to be all the way to today.”

Faith in finding a solution

The Sarmientos and Sprengers want to make sure Kent’s research can continue and that support in Amanda’s memory may one day provide more care options for people with osteosarcoma, no matter their age. 

“Amanda would have been 40 this year, and it means the world to us to see people are still moved by her to support Dr. Kent,” Joey said. “Just like Amanda, we also have a lot of faith that he can find a solution.”

Make a gift to the Amanda Sarmiento Memorial Fund online.   


 

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