Jimmie C. Holland, MD, Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, received ACCC’s Annual Achievement Award for excellence in advocacy, dedication, and commitment to the care and treatment of patients with cancer.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Holland noted that too many people shy away from labels that use words beginning with “psych,” so she chose ‘distress’ instead. She developed a distress scale that functions in much the same way as the widely used and well understood pain scale. The distress scale acknowledges and measures the psychosocial aspects of cancer that in many ways affect patients and their families more deeply than the disease itself.
“It occurred to me many years ago that supportive care was lagging way behind curative treatment, and we needed to make improvements in the ways in which we involved the patient’s whole family in treatment decisions,” she said. “We also had to improve the way we dealt with the meaning of life, including end-of-life issues. In short, we needed a new science, complete with clinical trials, that gives credence to patient-reported symptoms and feelings.” ■