Summerlark; Meet Katie Duckworth, PhD, LCMHC Resilience brings community together to support cancer patients


We met with Katie Duckworth to learn more about her background and why her life is dedicated to helping patients and families. We also learned why her work, coupled with the generosity of a resilient community, makes it possible for patients to have access to resources so desperately needed when faced with a cancer diagnosis. That’s where the Cancer Patient Support Program and SummerLark come in.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center started the Cancer Patient Support Program (CPSP) in 2008 as a resource for inpatients and outpatients to receive psychosocial support while navigating a cancer diagnosis. The program is supported by dollars raised at an annual fundraiser – SummerLark.

“SummerLark replaced the former WinterLark event after we had to transition to a larger, more open space following COVID,” said Duckworth. “This change in venue demonstrates the resiliency of our community. The shift to include the entire community in this event is energizing,” added Duckworth.

Speaking of resiliency, Duckworth is an amazing and resilient leader herself. She is ball of energy driven by her passion to help patients navigating challenging circumstances while balancing a family of six, research, teaching and clinic time. She still finds time to work towards a second PhD. We wanted to know more.

FW: How did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in health care and research?

KD:  I was the first one in my family to leave the state of Texas to attend college. I went to Vanderbilt to complete my bachelor’s degree in cognitive studies and Spanish literature. After seeing loved ones deal with and overcome varying health issues, I knew my calling was rooted in a space where individuals confront health status changes that involve loss, adaptation and resilience.

FW: How long have you been a member of our community?

KD:  I arrived in North Carolina in 2007 when I started my doctorate at UNC Greensboro. I completed an internship in 2008 under Dr. Richard McQuellon at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and fell in love with the balance of caring for patients, teaching in an academic medical center and performing research. All of those innovative roles ultimately inform our ability to care for patients and push the boundaries of knowledge.

FW: You and your team are getting ready for SummerLark on May 11. What is this and how can the community get involved?

KD: SummerLark is an outdoor concert and fundraiser to help support our patients in the Cancer Patient Support Program. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster and there will be opportunities to donate to the cause at the event. We are excited to have Barenaked Ladies as our entertainment this year. Funds raised on May 11 support our ability to serve ALL so ‘no one faces cancer alone’. Access to mental health care is foundational for our program.

SummerLark 2023 featuring Chris Lane and The Dryes

FW: Any words of advice? How do you remain so resilient balancing a family, work and education?

KD:  Never take your health for granted. I hit ‘reset’ every morning when my feet hit the floor, practice gratitude and am grateful for the day. It’s a gift! My patients- and certainly my children- remind me to remain in the present. It also is important to acknowledge the incredible team we have at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. Teamwork is fundamental, and it is essential to recognize everyone’s contribution. We have so much to learn and to do here every day.

Katie Duckworth Quick Facts

  • Director of the Psychosocial Oncology and Cancer Patient Support Programs
  • Associate professor in Hematology and Oncology
  • Bachelor of Arts in cognitive studies and Spanish Literature, Vanderbilt University
  • Master of Arts in community counseling, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Master of Arts in history, UNC Greensboro
  • Doctorate in counseling and counselor education, UNC Greensboro
  • Post-doctoral fellowship in psychosocial oncology, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
  • Pursuing a second doctorate in history with a focus on Cherokee women’s adaptation to epidemic disease

Husband: Daniel
Children: Ages 9, 6, 4 and 2

A Day in the Life:

4:15 a.m.                      Rise

5 – 6:00 a.m.                 Exercise and day prep!
7:15 a.m.                      Out the door for kid drop off
8:20 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.     Clinic/patient rounds/teaching/program management
after 5:30 p.m.              Dinner, homework, family, bedtime
9:30 p.m.                      Lights out

Call out:

Join Dr. Katie Duckworth at SummerLark on Saturday, May 11 at Bailey Park.
See ad for details.

For more information about the Cancer Patient Support Program, visit



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