Our dear Andrea has just retired. Andrea Patenaude, a pioneer clinical and research child psychologist has just retired from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where she held the position of Director of Psycho-Oncology Research in the Division of Pediatric Oncology, and from the Children´s Hospital in Boston. After more than 30 years of dedication to children with cancer and their families, Andrea is leaving behind an important personal and professional legacy. Andrea´s interest has gone beyond pediatrics. Survivorship, resilience and quality of life have also been her focus of study. In more recent years Andrea became interested in cancer genetics, studying the psychosocial outcomes of women and men undergoing genetic testing for p53 and BRCA1/2, as well as the experience of women undergoing prophylactic mastectomy for increased hereditary cancer risk. Part of her wisdom is embodied in her two books: Genetic Testing for Cancer-Psychological Approaches for Helping Patients and Families, (Amercian Psychological Association, 2002), and Prophylactic Mastectomy – Insights from Women Who Chose to Reduce Their Risk (Praeger, 2012). In addition, Andrea leaves behind a significant number of students, fellows and other professionals supervised by her during her years as Associate Profesor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.
Andea was the first person I met when I first arrived in Boston. I was lucky enough to be hired by her at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. I fondly recall the times when I would leave her office impressed by her extensive knowledge of seriously ill children and their families, and by her ability to combine hours of clinical work with the research projects that she so much invested in. I admired her writing skills and her ability to deal with difficult situations efficiently, as well as her capacity to balance her personal and family life with a demanding job with seriously ill kids and their families.
Let me tell you, I have mixed feelings about you retiring Andrea! On the one hand, I respect your well-deserved time away from work which will allow you more dedication to yourself, your family and your friends. On the other hand, I am sure I will not be the only one to miss your contributions to the field.
All your efforts to develop pediatric psychooncology, genetic counselling and specific issues around breast cancer have had an important impact on the lives not only of patients, but of many professionals as well Andrea. This is certainly something to be very proud of. But I also want to acknowledge all the time and effort you have invested in IPOS, to make pediatric psychooncology stronger and more present in our society. Making children one of our main focuses is helping spread the word about important issues when dealing with our younger ones and their distressed families. Your hours of dedication to this endeavour have helped IPOS liaison with other international pediatric oncology societies in very efficient ways. Your contribution to our IPOS Human Rights Committee is also something important to mention.
I believe I can speak in the name of our IPOS community when I thank you for your dedication to the field and to our society. Thank you for having reached this point of your carreer having shared so much of your knowledge and expertise with us. I personally would like to see your retirement not as an ocassion for distancing yourself from psychooncology, but rather as a way to access a greater degree of freedom for creativity, communication and new developments. I have the hope that you will continue to be an active part of IPOS in the years to come. We will always be here, with open arms and many projects (!), to continue being the recipients of your generosity. Good luck in this new stage of life!
Maria Die Trill
International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS)