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A couple learn how to tell their 7-year-old daughter that one of her parents is dying.

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By Alanna Kennedy

Debra Kent

By Alanna Kennedy


Debra Kent, who was featured in CR ’s Winter 2008 Cancerblog, died of ovarian cancer at her home on Dec. 21, 2007. She was 55.

Kent was a woman who loved to help others, says Jamie Lamkin, Kent’s former partner and co-parent of the couple’s 7-year-old daughter, Sofie. Kent spent her career working in the nonprofit sector. In the 1980s, during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Kent began raising money for HIV and AIDS patients. Her fundraising efforts helped to build Coming Home Hospice, a residential hospice facility for AIDS patients in San Francisco. “She had such a passion for doing the right thing,” says Lamkin.

Even more than her love for helping others, Kent loved her family. “She always put them first,” says Teri Tasler, a nurse at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., where Kent was treated. “Her daughter meant the world to her.” Despite Kent’s illness, Sofie was her primary concern right until her death. From a hospital bed in her home, Kent made sure that arrangements were set so that Lamkin would assume guardianship of Sofie as smoothly as possible.

In her blog entry from Oct. 16, 2007, two months before her death, Kent wrote, “Most important is to be Mom, even if I am not a fun Mom, for Sofie.”