A college sophomore has died following a battle with bone cancer.

University of Kentucky Athletics announced the death of Kentucky Wildcats Dance Team Member Kate Kaufling on Sunday in a news release Monday. Kaufling was 20.

The Wildcats' head coach Dawn Walters called Kaufling a "joy" in a statement.

"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," 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. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with the Kaufling family."

Dawn Walters, the University of Kentucky Dance Team head coach, called Kaufling a “joy,” whose smile “could light up a room.
Eddie Justice/UK Athletics


In addition to being a dance team member, Kaufling was also studying nursing at the university, located in Lexington, Kentucky.

Sandy Bell, the executive associate athletics director at UK, called Kaufling an "amazing student" in another statement.

"Even during her cancer treatments, Kate kept up with her studies, setting an amazing example for her teammates," Bell said. "Kate was beloved by all who knew her and she will be deeply missed. On behalf of UK Athletics, we send our deepest sympathies to Holly, Steve, Abbey and the entire Kaufling family."

The cancer Kaufling had – osteosarcoma – is a type of rare cancer where a tumor develops in the new tissue of growing bones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bone cancers like osteosarcoma account for about 5% of all childhood cancers.

Osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer, tends to appear in adolescents and children. Those who have previously received chemotherapy or radiation therapy, have a change in the RB1 gene or other specific genetic conditions, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Paget disease, have a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Symptoms of osteosarcoma may include joint pain, swelling above a bone or bony part of the body or an unexplained broken bone and the condition is diagnosed through imaging tests and a biopsy. Treatment options for osteosarcoma depend on a patient's prognosis and condition, and may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Kaufling is survived by her parents Holly and Steve and her twin sister Abbey, who is also a sophomore and member of the Wildcats Dance Team.