In 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.
THOMAS J. SMITH, MD, the inaugural Harry J. Duffey Family Professor in Palliative Care, is professor of oncology and palliative medicine and director of palliative medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Smith has a national and international reputation as one of the foremost leaders in the field of palliative care. He is board certified in both oncology and pain/palliative medicine, with research focused on neuropathic pain, care at the end of life, and bending the cost curve in patients with life-limiting conditions. He is a prominent spokesperson for both the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Center to Advance Palliative Care on topics related to symptom palliation and end-of-life care. He is an accomplished teacher and researcher, as well as a breast cancer clinician.
Before joining the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in September 2011, Dr. Smith served as co-director of the Massey Cancer Center Cancer Control and Prevention Program at the Virginia Commonwealth University. While there, he also held the Massey Endowed Professor of Palliative Care Research and Esteemed Professor of Medicine for Oncology.
He received his bachelor’s of science degree summa cum laude from the University of Akron and his medical degree cum laude from Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the Medical College of Virginia. He also was a special fellow in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute.