Twin Heartbroken as Dancer Sister, 20, Dies From Rare Cancer

University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky dancer Kate Kaufling, 20, has died from a rare bone cancer on Sunday, just months after she shared a video celebrating the end of her chemotherapy treatment.

Her twin sister, and fellow UK dancer Abbey Kaufling, shared a tribute to her sister after her death was announced.

“My heart is in pieces having to write this. My sweet Kate you were my person. you were my safe space in human form,” she wrote. “Kate and I spent every minute of our lives together. From going on Kate’s first date with her to sitting on the floor talking while she showered, we couldn’t be separated.”

“As I sit here today I ask myself how I am supposed to go on without my twin sister, maid of honor, and soulmate doing all the things with me but I will for you Kate. I promise to wake up everyday and live my life for you Kate. As heartbroken as I am right now, I can say I have the best guardian angel in all of heaven,” she wrote.

UK Athletics said in a statement that she died from osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

“Kate was a joy to coach and to be around. Her smile could light up a room and she was beloved by all of her UKDT teammates,” head coach Dawn Walters said. “We are all saddened by Kate’s passing. We will remember her for the tough battle she fought with osteosarcoma over the past year. She was brave until the very end and all of us can draw inspiration from the courageous battle that she fought.”

Kaufling was pursuing a nursing degree, according to UK Executive Associate Athletics Director Sandy Bell.

“Even during her cancer treatments, Kate kept up with her studies, setting an amazing example for her teammates. Kate was beloved by all who knew her and she will be deeply missed,” she said.

Kaufling’s death came just three months after she revealed the end of her seven-month round of chemotherapy.

“2023 was by far not the year I had in mind. My plans of returning to UK with my best friends to dance and start nursing school had made a sharp unexpected turn,” she wrote of the devastating diagnosis.

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