Lisa J. Stearns, MD, was the world’s foremost expert in interventional therapy for cancer pain and is internationally renowned for her research and expertise with intrathecal pumps. Dr. Stearns passed away in May, 2020. We wish her loved ones, patients and her practice the very best and we miss her dearly.
Dr. Stearns was committed to educating patients and healthcare professionals about the most effective pain management and supportive care techniques. Upon receiving her medical degree from the University of Nebraska in 1991 and completing her residency in anesthesiology and her fellowship in pain management, Dr. Stearns became one of only a handful of interventional pain specialists to focus her practice on palliative medicine.
In 2007 when Dr. Stearns founded Center for Pain and Supportive Care (CPSC) in Phoenix Arizona, she set out to tackle what she saw as fragmented and narrow care for patients with chronic pain. Dr. Stearns has diligently worked to create a diverse team of providers, including specialists in cancer-related and chronic pain, supportive care, advanced therapies, interventional pain management, yoga rehabilitation, and medication management, among others. She has sought out talented clinicians whose values naturally follow CPSC’s mission of restoring a patient’s life by providing the most advanced pain management treatments through a whole-person approach to care.
Dr. Stearns authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on pain management and palliative care and was involved in research at both the early development and late clinical trial stages. She was frequently a featured speaker at national and international conferences in her field; she had an adjunct faculty appointment at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine where she trained pain management and palliative fellows and preceptor for Midwestern University medical students and allied health professionals. In all her work, Dr. Stearns sought to raise awareness that pain management can “build a bridge back to life.”
After watching both of her grandmothers pass away from cancer, Dr. Stearns experienced first-hand that many chronic pain and cancer patients do not receive the proper care they need and often feel neglected throughout the treatment process. Dr. Stearns made it her life’s work to improve her patients’ function and overall quality of life, caring not only for her patients but their families and caregivers as well. Her practice was unique in that she treated the whole person by teaching them how to build healthy behaviors in all aspects of their lives: physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological.
Dr. Stearns founded the Valley Cancer Pain Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to cancer pain research, to raise awareness and to educate families, patients and providers on integrating interventional pain treatments. She was also a co-founder and executive committee member of the Cancer Pain Research Consortium, a group of doctors from across the world working to find the latest and best treatments for cancer-related pain.