Professor Augusto Caraceni, Director of Palliative Care, Pain Therapy Rehabilitation and Virgilio Floriani Hospice at the National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy, remembers the life and contribution of Mrs Loredana Floriani.
Loredana Floriani, honorary president of the Floriani Foundation, died in Milan on Monday, 19 October 2015 at the age of 95. In 1940, Loredana Carbone Floriani married Virgilio Floriani and the couple had four sons: Roberto, Antonella, Marco and Paolo.
The Floriani family have played a key role in the development of palliative care in Italy and across the world. They initiated the Floriani Foundation in 1978 following the loss of Virgilio’s brother, Bruno, who had died of cancer. Their experience made them aware that there was nobody involved in healthcare in Italy, nor in many other parts of the world, that had any idea about palliative care as a response to the needs of patients with incurable disease. Since the beginning of the foundation more than 30 years ago, Mrs Floriani, in her elegant, charming and modest manner, complemented the rigour and determination of her husband, Virgilio, in creating the public image that the Floriani Foundation still has today.
Together with Vittorio Ventafridda at the National Cancer Institute of Milan, the Floriani family started a programme to enable the development of palliative care services, and to build and disseminate knowledge and promote research. Funded by the Floriani Foundation, the first home care service for patients with advanced cancer started in Milan in 1980 and developed into what later became known as the ‘Milan Floriani model’. Two years later in 1982, at the Villa d’Este, the Floriani Foundation hosted the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative for cancer pain relief resulting in the WHO analgesic ladder. The Floriani Foundation promoted numerous meetings and scientific conferences of the highest International quality: Bonica, Twycross, Saunders, Foley, Swerdlow, Wall and Kübler-Ross were some of the names among the contributors. Virgilio and Loredana were always present. Their presence, and in particular the presence of Mrs Floriani, was a gift and a resource that everyone felt when meeting her.
Without ever interfering or crossing the border of their role, Loredana and Virgilio helped the palliative care community to reinforce the meaning of their work. They encouraged us all – young doctors, nurses and other professionals – to believe in the dignity of what we were doing and in our responsibility towards our patients, in a society that, especially in the professional community, was often hostile to the innovation of palliative care.
It was the Floriani Foundation that organised the first European Palliative Care Congress in Milan (April 1988), when it was decided to establish the European Association for Palliative Care, (which occurred later in Milan in December 1988). In 2003, at the 8th EAPC Congress in The Hague, the Floriani Lecture and Award were instituted, as one of the key acknowledgements in the field. Mrs Floriani presented the award to Kathy Foley. The Floriani Lecture continues to be a prestigious part of our congresses and, I am sure, will remain so for a long time. Mrs Floriani was presented to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands who opened the congress. The smile with which she greeted the Queen was the same that she offered to all her guests – a smile that made you personally feel no less than a queen or a king.
One of the first books ever published on cancer pain (‘Advances in pain research and therapy’ Vol. 2 Raven Press, New York, 1979) reported the proceedings of the Venice International Symposium (1978), which had been organised thanks to the Floriani Foundation. It included this dedication to Loredana and Virgilio written by John Bonica, with which I shall end my own tribute to this remarkable woman.
“Two wonderful human beings whose magnificent personal attributes and extraordinary sense of humanitarianism are a constant source of admiration and inspiration.”