Last year, I was asked to sing at the funeral of my grandmother: Ombrai mai fu – which translates as ‘Never was a shade of any tree dearer or more lovely’. When operating on the edges of life and death, palliative care as a profession enters an intimate area of hope, loss and grief. Death, dying, and living with incurable disease are in the first place genuine human experiences of people like you and me, who are in need of support. The heart of the palliative care ‘tree’ is to be care-ful, literally full of care. And we need good, interprofessional knowledge and skills to put that into practice.
For more than 10 years now, I have been working at the Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. In this centre, I work as a senior researcher in palliative care. Having graduated in both health sciences and ethics, I always liked to combine academic research with relevant societal questions and a PhD thesis about the medical and ethical aspects of palliative sedation was a great opportunity for me. Afterwards, I received grants from national and international scientific organisations to continue my research work (integrated palliative care, telecare, palliative sedation, regional collaborations with homecare). Recently, our university recognized me as one of their research leaders. Besides my research, I have an extensive experience in policy advisory for the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centers who also asked me to advise on palliative care development. Together with many partners, we have build a national programme and expert centers have been developed at all university medical centers. In 2015 I was elected for the board of our national palliative care association, and also at that time I was appointed as a member of the national palliative care research committee. I also became scientific coordinator and advisor of several international research projects in the field of integrated palliative care and palliative sedation. In my leisure time, my hobbies are running in the forest and to sing and play guitar in the all-stars band, ‘The Palliators’.
If elected to the EAPC board, I would bring a firm background of leading on policy and senior research projects, nationally and internationally. I have worked closely with several past EAPC (vice)-presidents and I realize that the EAPC is in a transition phase having recently changed country of registration and related accountability procedures. I learned how to work with people from different cultural and national backgrounds, and it is a wonderful experience to build bridges together. Especially, in my view, bridges between Northern/Southern European members towards Central/Eastern European members need to be developed more firmly. Also, contact with our overseas African, Asian, Australian and American partner organisations needs to be strengthened and the valuable work of raising awareness of palliative care within the European Union offices must be continued.
My first EAPC congress was in 2005 in Aachen and since then I have seen them grow each year, attracting more attendees from all over the world. Therefore, I also see it as a huge responsibility for the board to continue the high quality of our EAPC congresses.