An Extra Birthday


Jamie Cooper Morales holds a photo of her sister Sara.
Jamie Cooper Morales holds a photo of her sister Sara.

The color blue and butterflies always make Jamie Cooper Moales think of her late sister, Sara Elizabeth Cooper.

She tears up talking about her. “You would think after 21 years, it would be easier. But it isn't always,” Moales said. “Sara was super friendly and wanted to make everybody feel special.”

They were both into softball and volleyball and played instruments in the marching band. “She was outgoing and everyone's best friend. I was the studious and nerdy one,” Moales said.

In 1999, when Sara was 16, she came to Duke for a biopsy and was diagnosed Jamie Cooper pullquotewith non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. After responding well to the first round of treatments, her cancer soon relapsed. Additional chemotherapy failed, so she had a stem cell transplant at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where she spent her 17th birthday.

The transplant was not successful, and the cancer spread. She died of the disease in September 2000, at her family's home in West Virginia.

“While Sara did not have the outcome we hoped and prayed for, because of the care she received at Duke we had one more birthday with her, and for that my family is immensely grateful,” Moales said.

Moales made a gift to start the Sara Elizabeth Cooper Immunotherapy Research Fund at Duke Cancer Institute to support work to develop new treatments that harness the immune system’s innate ability to fight cancer.

“I believe that if Sara were diagnosed today, the promise of immunotherapy would have saved her life,” she said.

Jamie Cooper Moales

How You Can Help

Learn more about Sara or give to the Sara Elizabeth Cooper Immunotherapy Research Fund at Duke Cancer Institute

This page was reviewed on 06/20/2022