April, 2024
April 2024
A tribute to Dr. Jay Loeffler – Bob Carter
Jun 27, 2023, 18:59

A tribute to Dr. Jay Loeffler – Bob Carter

A tribute to Dr. Jay Loeffler… In the spring of 1998, while still a neurosurgical resident, I gave my first ever grand rounds in the Ether Dome at MGH. It was a detailed anatomical overview of cavernous sinus, and highlighted treatment of lesions of the cavernous sinus. At the end of my grand rounds, one of our faculty, Dr. Jay Loeffler, the eminent radiation oncologist who was Director of the North-East Proton Therapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and who would two years later become the Chief of Radiation Oncology at MGH, told me “that was the best description of the cavernous sinus that I have ever heard.” It was the kind of praise from a larger than life figure that you always remember when you are a younger person. A few years later, now on faculty at MGH, I was negotiating for a new position as a department chair at another esteemed institution. I went to see Dr. Loeffler for his advice and told him about the resource package we were developing for this new opportunity. “No, no, no.” he said, “That won’t do“. “You are going to need more resources to accomplish the things you want to accomplish” and he encouraged me to go back and work with my soon to be new institution to create a set of resources that would truly work to build a world class Department, and he was spot-on correct. Another several years later, when I returned to MGH as department chair, Dr. Loeffler, along with his wife, Dr. Nancy Tarbell, was there to welcome me with open arms, sharing insights and guidance, as I started in my current role. Never asking anything in return, Dr. Loeffler was always willing to lend advice or a hand when challenges would arise. For the past two years, after Dr. Loeffler stepped down as MGH Chair of Radiation Oncology and moved to Florida, we continued to share in the care of patients with CNS tumors. Dr. Loeffler was cross appointed as faculty in Neurosurgery and served a mentor to many of our residents and faculty; he loved getting updates on past trainees and hearing of their many successes (& he always had a crowd of trainees with him, ready to drop by the office to celebrate any important occasion). This past week, Dr. Loeffler passed away suddenly. His professional accomplishments in CNS Radiation Oncology were tremendous and many others will comment on his impact in that domain. But on more personal level, Jay taught me about ‘sustained mentorship’ over a 25 year time frame. It doesn’t require weekly conversations or even regular check-ins. It can be as simple as seeing opportunities to help others, and acting on that inspiration whenever the occasion might arise. To the mentor, these acts may seem sporadic and insignificant. To the mentee, it will seem as if these interventions were of impeccable timing and were perfect in every way. Thank you Jay.


Source: Bob Carter/Twitter