Earlier this spring, the T.J. Martell Foundation, which supports research in leukemia, other cancers, and AIDS, announced the honorees of its 2015 Women of Influence Awards, which celebrate the achievements of outstanding women in a variety of fields. Among this year’s seven recipients was Jimmie C. Holland, MD, Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
The other honorees included radio personality Delilah; Natalie Morales, co-host of the Today show; LaTonya Crisp-Sauray, third-ranking officer in New York’s Transit Union Local 100; Elaine Turner, apparel and accessory designer; JuE Wong, CEO of StriVectin, a skin care company; and Kelli Turner, Executive Vice President and CFO of SESAC, a performing rights organization. The awards were given out on May 1, 2015, in New York.
Celebrating a Stellar Career
The award is fitting recognition of Dr. Holland’s efforts over the past 4 decades. Recognized as the founder of the subspecialty of psycho-oncology, in 1977, Dr. Holland launched the Psychiatry Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Under her leadership, Memorial’s Psychiatry Service became the country’s leading training and research program dedicated to the field of psycho-oncology.
Dr. Holland is also the founder of the International Psycho-Oncology Society and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society. Her efforts to raise awareness of the psychological side effects of cancer have resulted in the launch of psycho-oncology programs in hospitals and oncology practices nationwide.
To help oncologists easily evaluate patients’ distress levels, Dr. Holland and her colleagues at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network developed a “distress thermometer” that measures a patient’s distress on a 0-to-10 scale, similar to the pain scale oncologists use to assess pain. A patient who scores 4 or higher on the distress thermometer should be further evaluated and, if necessary, referred to a mental health-care specialist and monitored closely.
Dr. Holland spoke at the awards ceremony, saying “The quote that best describes psycho-oncology is from my husband, Jim: ‘Psycho-oncology is the only specialty that is involved in the care of every patient, at every age, at every visit, with every treatment in every country of the world,’” said Dr. Holland.
Click here for a story about James F. Holland, MD, FASCO. ■