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In Memoriam: Remembering and Celebrating the Life of Patti Hennessy

CURE® remembers the life and work of Patrice “Patti” Hennessy patient advocate and loving grandmother, who passed away from cancer on January 28th.
BY Beth Fand Incollingo
PUBLISHED May 19, 2020
During this year’s Miami Breast Cancer Conference®, MJH Life SciencesTM remembered and celebrated the life of Patrice “Patti” Hennessy, an interior designer, a patient advocate, a mother devoted to her four children and their spouses and a grandmother who considered her nine grandchildren the loves of her life. On January 28, she succumbed to the cancer she had lived with for nine years. She was 59 years old.

During her journey with ovarian and then breast cancer, Mrs. Hennessy watched her family grow, traveled with her husband and spent time with friends and in nature. She had recently celebrated the 36th anniversary of her marriage to Mike Hennessy Sr., chairman and founder of MJH Life SciencesTM, parent company of CURE®; Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC (PER®); OncLive®; and more than 60 other medical media platforms.

“Focusing on the cancer all the time defeats the purpose of the fight. I try to live and enjoy life,” she said in 2018.

Mrs. Hennessy went out of her way to help others navigate the cancer experience. In 2018, she served as keynote speaker for PER®’s 35th Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference®, emphasizing the importance of testing for BRCA gene mutations in women with breast and ovarian cancers. She carried an inherited BRCA1 mutation, which predisposed her to both cancer types.

“I speak to so many people who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and when I ask if they have the gene, they know nothing about it,” Mrs. Hennessy said in an interview prior to her talk. “This gene can impact your entire family and generations to come. There are also preventive things you can do, if you have it, to avoid both breast and ovarian cancer.”

During her keynote address, she urged her audience of oncologists, nurses and other health professionals to take more detailed family histories, have their patients’ tumors tested for genetic mutations and offer them personalized treatment based on the results. She credited her years of successful treatment to that kind of strategy and pointed out that advances in research will continue to expand the options for individualized therapy.

“I fight this fight so that I can be here with my family, and I won’t give up — for myself and so many women like me, and for my family and their families,” she said. “We’re all counting on you to work hard toward a cure.”

Mrs. Hennessy’s determination in the face of her health challenges was recognized by Dr. Patrick I. Borgen, Miami Breast Cancer Conference® chair.

“Patti Hennessy can teach us two vitally important lessons in breast oncology,” Borgen said.

“She teaches us the depth of our ignorance about this complex disease and she teaches us to never give up, to maintain hope coupled with tenacity. Her message is clear — not to dwell on the uncertainties, but rather to revel in the distance yet to be traveled.”
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