Laura Jones, an oncology social worker at the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center, was surprised with a Marc A. Lehmann Spirit of Service Award.

Laura Jones, an oncology social worker at the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center, received a Marc A. Lehmann Spirit of Service Award for her compassion in her work with cancer patients.

On Tuesday, an unsuspecting Jones was led by co-workers into the M. Krista Loyd Resource Center at the cancer center, where she was presented with her award by Marc Lehmann’s father, George.

Marc Lehmann, a UofL student, passed away in 2012 after an eight-year battle with cancer. He had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia just a few months after high school graduation.

The Spirit of Service Awards in his name are given to oncology support staff who show compassionate patient support.

At the Brown Cancer Center, Jones provides psychosocial support and clinical case management for patients in the neuro, bone marrow transplant and gynecological oncology clinics. She works closely with bone marrow transplant patients with complicated issues that require lengthy care.

In her award nomination, nurse manager Dianne Thomas wrote that Jones “possesses a warm and friendly mannerism that is evident on your first encounter.” She noted Jones’ dedication and compassion to low-income patients, and her ability to build a strong rapport. Thomas noted that Jones has carved out new avenues for funding for patients, and “has become a valuable asset to her peers, as well as patients.”

She said Jones “deserves to be recognized for her dedication and loyalty.”

The Marc A. Lehmann Spirit of Service Award Foundation’s mission is to conduct and promote initiatives that encourage medical care with empathy and compassion, and to recognize physicians, caregivers and support staff with long-standing service to patients and their families in the areas of hematology and oncology.

Each October, the foundation holds an awards banquet at Vincenzo’s Italian restaurant, where five deserving oncology support staff from the community are recognized, along with one physician.

This year’s banquet will be held on Oct. 26. The featured speaker will be Jason Chesney, MD, director of the Brown Cancer Center, and the featured physician will be Kelly McMasters, MD, chair of the Hiram C. Polk Jr., MD, Department of Surgery at UofL and director of the Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic.

Paul Resch, director and advisory committee member of the foundation, is a leukemia survivor himself. He told Jones that in addition to doctors, he knew from experience how important the support staff was to cancer patients.

“It’s the feet on the ground that touch us every day that make a difference – whether it’s a touch, or a conversation. You’re blessed that you have those skills, and you’re sharing them with others. And it does make a difference.”