The Marvelous Dr. Grace Makari-Judson and the Evolution of Cancer Care at Baystate Health

June 14, 2024
 Back to News

Upon retirement, one can hopefully look back on their career with pride. For Dr. Grace Makari-Judson, she can also end her tenure knowing that her work will benefit patients long into the future.Dr. Grace Makari-Judson addresses the crowd at Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer. Over more than three decades, Dr. Makari-Judson has left an indelible mark on cancer care at Baystate Health.

She has held the hands of patients on their cancer journeys, providing them with compassionate high-quality care as a physician. She has made strides in the lab as Co-director of the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, taught the next generation of providers as a Professor of Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School - Baystate, and developed guidelines for care. Walking alongside survivors, she has helped the community through 30 years of philanthropic support and volunteerism to the Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer. The culmination of this work has been her role as the Division Chief for Hematology and Oncology and the Medical Director of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program and D’Amour Center for Cancer Care.

As she prepares for retirement, Dr. Makari-Judson reflected on her career and the important role fundraising plays in providing quality, patient-centered cancer care.

A Leader in the Making

Dr. Makari-Judson joined the Baystate Health team in 1988, and it wasn’t long before her leadership began to have an impact.

She developed the framework for what is today known as the Baystate Breast and Wellness Center, served as director for Baystate Regional Cancer Program’s fellowship program, and started the Rays of Hope Center for Cancer Research.

On top of these numerous roles, she always made the time for the intense work of consoling, advising and treating patients for breast cancer.

“It has been an incredible privilege to care for people just diagnosed. They’re at their most vulnerable in that moment, and then you see them through treatment, and they very often come out stronger in the end,” said Dr. Makari-Judson.

Supporting Patients and Baystate Health

Soon, her leadership began to expand beyond cancer care as she served on the Baystate Health Board of Trustees.

“Serving on the Board helped me better appreciate the importance of philanthropy at Baystate Health,” shared Dr. Makari-Judson. “I was able to see the great need across the system, as well as how far donations can go in order to help our patients.”

That need continues today. As the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care embarks on its 20th year serving our region, there is a great need to update technology and equipment to support the rapidly evolving treatments available. Donations can help in major ways.

“Cancer care evolves rapidly, and we want to be able to provide patients with the most up-to-date treatment options in a timely fashion, which is where our donors play an important role,” shared Dr. Makari-Judson. “Bringing in a new program or initiative can take a few years going through the budget process, but with donor support, we can pivot easily and implement these opportunities more quickly.”

The Next Chapter

Dr. Makari-Judson embarked on her retirement in early 2024, stepping away from her leadership and clinical roles at Baystate Health, but she’s far from done making a difference.

“I am going to continue teaching and mentoring students, and I’ll be staying on to support breast cancer research funded through Rays of Hope and other generous donors,” shared Dr. Makari-Judson. “With the creation of the new Rays of Hope Endowment, we are securing the future of this type of work through donor support. We will continue to walk and run toward the cure, and research will play a crucial role in that work.”

And, that work will continue to support care within our community.

“The benefit of making a donation to Rays of Hope, Baystate Regional Cancer Program, or the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care is that those funds stay local to support diagnostics, treatment, and programs in western Massachusetts,” added Dr. Makari-Judson. “These gifts help our loved ones, friends, and neighbors when they need it most.”

baystate health's the beat monthly e-newsletter subscribe image

Health & Wellness Tips

Sign up for monthly emails from Baystate Health.

Back to Top