Duke Oncologist Going For Woman Of The Year

March 11, 2016
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications, DCI

Man and Woman of the Year candidates compete for the title by raising funds in honor of two local pediatric survivors, a boy and a girl. Boy of the Year Benjamin Byers, photographed here with Woman of the Year candidate Stefanie Sarantopoulous, MD, PhD, was treated at Duke for lymphoblastic leukemia.Man and Woman of the Year candidates compete for the title by raising funds in honor of two local pediatric survivors, a boy and a girl. Boy of the Year Benjamin Byers, photographed here with Woman of the Year candidate Stefanie Sarantopoulous, MD, PhD, was treated at Duke for lymphoblastic leukemia.

Every year The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) hosts its Man & Woman of the Year campaign, a 10-week crusade to raise funds to help find cures for blood cancers. Individuals, from throughout the Triangle, utilize their leadership, talents and resources to conduct fundraising campaigns in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its mission to fund blood cancer research and provide education and support services for patients and their families.

The male and female candidates who raise the most money during the campaign will be named Triangle Man and Woman of the Year, respectively. The nominees run in honor of young blood cancer patients, the Boy & Girl of the Year, who through his or her personal story serves to engage and inspire the nominee’s family, friends and colleagues to support the fight against blood cancer.

Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD, cell therapy and hematologic malignancies specialist, has been nominated for this year's Woman of the Year title. Sarantopoulos received her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1998. She specializes in bone marrow transplants, and her research focuses  on the development of chronic graft versus host disease.

"For me, caring for patients and pursuing scientific inquiry are inseparable," said Sarantopoulos. "Our patients' stories compel us to continue our hard work in the laboratory. However, I know without funds, research will not happen. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is an amazing organization whose mission is to fund breakthrough research."

The cause is also personal for Sarantopoulos. While in medical school, her father, Joe Sarantopoulos, passed away as a result of acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome (AML/MDS).

"It was impossibly difficult to have to admit to my dad that we did not yet have a viable treatment option for him," said Sarantopoulos, whose father died just weeks before the birth of her two children.

According to LLS, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with or are in remission from a blood cancer. Someone new is diagnosed with a blood cancer every three minutes. New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will account for nine percent of the 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States this year.

"Our Man & Woman of the Year campaign is a fundraising competition among a select group of individuals in the community," said Emily Blust, executive director, LLS. "While each candidate conducts his or her own campaign, all candidates are united in their quest to use their leadership skills to raise funds to help blood cancer patients live longer and more fulfilling lives."

In accepting the nomination, Sarantopoulos has ten weeks beginning the day of the kickoff to accumulate the most "votes." Every dollar raised counts as one vote. The male and female candidates who raise the most votes during the campaign receive the titles at the Grand Finale Gala.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year campaign kicked off on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The campaign ends Saturday, April 30, at 6 p.m. Sarantopoulos hopes to raise $88,000. To donate to Sarantopoulos, visit her MWOY fundraising page. Join the discussion and pledge support on Facebook at Stefanie Sarantopoulos for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year Campaign.

Additional Fundraising Supporting Sarantopoulos For LLS Woman of the Year