DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Sandy Barker Sandy riding her bike

Remembering Sandy Baker: Kidney Cancer Peer Reviewer

An avid bicyclist, Sandra “Sandy” Barker strode to get the most out of life and worked to help others do the same. In addition to participating in the Pan-Mass Challenge,1 an annual fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Sandy served as a Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) consumer peer reviewer for the Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP), representing the Kidney Cancer Action Network. Sadly, in early 2020, Sandy lost her battle with kidney cancer, but her impact is lasting. Caroline Sample,2 who also served as a KCRP consumer peer reviewer, honored Sandy with a Moment of Silence at the KCRP’s FY20 Peer Review meeting. Caroline, first diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma herself in 2010, met Sandy through SmartPatients,3 an online community connecting patients and families. They bonded through their shared experiences with Interleukin-2 therapy and volunteered as peer reviewers to help bring the patient perspective to the research process.

 

FY20 KCRP Peer Review Moment of Silence:

Sandy Barker Caroline Sample
Presenter of Moment of Silence

“I miss her. We all do. I miss her sparkling eyes and her laughter. I miss her verve and energy, her lust for life, her thirst for knowledge, her unstinting generosity.

Renal Cell Carcinoma brought us together. We first met when she decided to undertake the challenge of Interleukin-2. As a durable complete responder I talked to her about my experience. Sadly, she was not as fortunate.

She wanted to learn all she could about the disease that ultimately ended her life. She was a sponge for knowledge. She often knew more than her nurses about upcoming treatment developments. She shared that knowledge generously with the SmartPatients community. She participated in the CDMRP Kidney Cancer Research Program as a consumer reviewer. Two years ago she was here, one of us. Last year she was too sick to participate. We miss her.

She spoke on the patient panel at the Kidney Cancer Symposium in Boston several times, frequently giving hope and comfort to many.

She was determined to do everything in her power to live life to the full.

One of the highlights of her year was her participation in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a cancer research fundraiser in which she rode her bike. In the 2019 event she rode her bike for the very last time. The metastases in her brain would not let her ride again.

Hospice and good friends helped her through her last days. She left us in 2020 as the year was just beginning. I want to thank her for all she did, for the joy and hope she gave so many.

We all miss her.”

Sandy believed in the need to focus more research on etiology and causation, early detection, and prevention of kidney cancer in addition to improved therapies. While Sandy is no longer able to advocate herself, her family and friends like Caroline remember and are continuing the fight for a better world for people with kidney cancer.

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.pmc.org/
  2. https://kccure.org/2019/05/voice-of-kidney-cancer-caroline-sample/
  3. https://www.smartpatients.com/

Last updated Wednesday, March 31, 2021