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Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Care in Oncology

DuffeyLoisIn 1988, Mrs. LOIS S. DUFFEY vividly remembered the hours she spent in the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center waiting room throughout the many months a family member was being treated for cancer. “I was overwhelmed by the distress of other patients and families there,” she recalled. “There was such confusion and anxiety on their faces. I thought surely there must be some way to make the whole ordeal more bearable, to give patients and families some ‘mental relief’ from the fear and worry.”

And so it began. The Harry J. Duffey family embarked on a unique partnership with Johns Hopkins, guided by one goal–to help cancer patients and their families. The Duffey family and Hopkins recognized early, before many in the mainstream cancer advocacy community, that cancer is more than a physical disease and that cancer has effects beyond the individual patient. Through the Duffey family’s incredible commitment, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins established and continues to lead a cutting-edge psychosocial program that includes a team of specially trained experts who address the needs and care of patients and their families throughout the entire cancer journey–from diagnosis, through treatment, recurrence, and palliative care to survivorship and issues related to life beyond cancer.

The Patient and Family Services Program was renamed in 2005 as the Harry J. Duffey Family Patient and Family Services Program to honor the family that had given so much to help cancer patients and their families. From individual counseling and residential living accommodations, to educational programs designed to assist patients and families define and solve issues related to managing their cancer, the Duffey Family Patient and Family Services Program is integrated in a highly organized and unique way to benefit patients and their families.

In 2007, recognizing Hopkins’ successes, the Duffey family, led by Lois Duffey, secured palliative medicine’s future at Johns Hopkins with a significant endowment. For the first time in the Kimmel Center, a palliative care multidisciplinary team was formed, bringing together physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and chaplaincy, all focused on delivering palliative care. The recruitment of Thomas Smith, MD, an internationally recognized expert in palliative care, further solidifies the Duffey family’s vision of ensuring patients and families at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center access to the most comprehensive supportive care resources available during a most uncertain time in their lives.