Chantale Thurston


Chantale is a motivated patient advocate who believes in awareness, knowledge and research to lead to earlier detection and better outcomes. She was diagnosed at 34 with Stage 4 Appendix Cancer and underwent 4 rounds of chemotherapy and an intense 8-hour HIPEC surgery.  She is a mother, a wife and an accountant (CPA, CGA). She can be reached on Instagram @ChantaleT1.


Julie Deleemans


Dr. Deleemans holds a PhD in Medical Science specializing in psychosocial oncology and Integrative Medicine. She is also a patient advocate and survivor of stage IV laryngeal cancer, diagnosed in 2006 at age 18. Presently she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Calgary in the Department of Oncology and Vice Chair of AYA Can. Dr. Deleemans’ primary research investigates the long-term impact of cancer treatments on the gut microbiota, gastrointestinal and psychosocial symptoms in survivors of cancer, and developing interventions to address these symptoms. Through her research and advocacy work, Dr. Deleemans is passionate about helping others affected by cancer.


Emily Piercell


Emily was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 27 years old, the summer after finishing law school. After a year of active treatment, multiple surgeries, Articling and being called to the Bar, she has shifted her career to supporting and advocating for AYAs diagnosed with cancer. For the past 5 years, Emily has worked at Canadian charities supporting young women with cancer through programs, education and content. Currently, Emily works for Wildfire Magazine, a breast cancer magazine started by an AYA breast cancer survivor and the Patient as Teacher Program, integrating humanistic and patient-centred approaches into undergraduate surgical education. Emily is passionate about AYA cancer issues and ensuring no one faces cancer alone. You can find Emily on Instagram at @emilypiercell.


Vinesha Ramasamy


Vinesha (she/her) is a childhood and young adult survivor of multiple osteosarcoma (bone cancer), sarcoma and lung cancer recurrences, now living with chronic illness and disability as a result of her cancer experiences. Vinesha and her family arrived in Canada as Sri Lankan Eelam Tamil refugees while she was a child. Her career began in capital markets and finance, however Vinesha’s life journey led her to shift focus to community building, community giving, global sustainability, and social finance. Her life purpose revolves around contributing advocacy, support and mentorship with a health equity and social justice lens. You can find her at @VineshasVoice on Instagram.

Haydn Bechthold

Haydn Bechthold

At the age of 22, Haydn received a stage 3C rectal cancer diagnosis, followed by the identification of Lynch syndrome. Having endured symptoms for over four years before the diagnosis, Haydn swiftly recognized the evident gaps in care for young adult cancer patients. This diagnosis abruptly halted his soccer career in Europe, yet it sparked a new passion for patient advocacy. Since then, Haydn has also embarked on his journey through law school at Toronto Metropolitan University. Alongside his studies, he works as a law student for a Labour and Employment law firm in Ottawa, and is set to work as a judicial law clerk for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice during his articling term.

Dylan Buskermolen

Dylan Buskermolen

Dylan is a professional health advocate, public speaker, and three time cancer survivor. At 19 years old, Dylan was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called Hodgkin's Lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment throughout 2017. Throughout his initial treatment, Dylan was able to meet with fellow patients and healthcare professionals that inspired him to get involved as a spokesperson for his fellow patients and AYA members of the community. This, in addition to multiple cancer relapses throughout the pandemic, led Dylan to work at the Canadian Cancer Society as a Public Engagement and Advocacy Specialist. Outside of work, Dylan is passionate about writing, fitness, and all things nerdy!

Taryn Cornelssen

Taryn Cornelssen

Taryn was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 during the height of COVID in 2020. She is a Registered Psychologist in Calgary primarily working with youth, adolescents and their families both in private practice and through an adolescent psychiatric unit at the hospital. She is currently completing her Doctor of Psychology degree where her research is dedicated to evaluating the psychosocial support for young women with breast cancer. Taryn is passionate about supporting the AYA population with a special interest in supporting the mental health of those whose lives are affected by cancer.

Jason SQ600

Jason Gisser

Jason is a labour lawyer and community advocate based in Winnipeg. He is a proud cancer fighter, who is using the advocacy skills he’s developed through his legal training and political experience in order to support fellow cancer patients. Jason’s near 20-year journey with Metastatic Ameloblastoma has seen him experience a multitude of different cancer treatments and medical systems, and he is passionate about sharing his insights with AYA cancer patients, health practitioners, and cancer institutes. You can follow Jason on X at @JasonG84

Thanh Nguyen

Thanh Nguyen

Thanh, pronounced "tun" like the sun, (she/they), is an amateur zookeeper (with 2 cats and a dog), an avid foodie, and a lover of sharks. There’s not much difference between her moon sign and her thyroid: both cancer, by the way. She is now in remission and is dedicating her life to advocating for adolescent and young adult cancer patients, supporters, and survivors, especially those who are 2SLGBTQIA+ and BIPOC.

Nadia Wendowsky

Nadia Wendowsky

Nadia is a native of Montreal. A graduate of McGill University, she has held successive executive level positions in the not-for-profit sector. Today, she is the Vice-President, Leadership and Corporate Giving at the Canadian Cancer Society. She is fortunate to dedicate her career to organizations with a mission focus; working in (healthcare) philanthropy, she is privileged to connect people and causes to advance some of the biggest challenges facing communities today. Nadia is also an AYA cancer survivor. In 2021, she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and she navigated that journey during the pandemic with two young children. She is deeply committed to advancing AYA cancer research and care to ensure that others facing the disease receive access to the most promising interventions and personal care they need.


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