Survivor Conference 2020: Virtual will offer a combination of workshops and sessions led by experts on topics relevant to the young adult cancer experience, stories from other YACCers, and opportunities to connect with young adults living with, through, and beyond cancer across Canada.

Tentative schedule

Schedule based on Eastern time zone.

6-8:30 p.m. – Opening ceremonies

8:30 p.m. – Yoga/relaxation

9 a.m. – Morning welcome

9:30 a.m. – YACCer spotlight with Morgan McNeely

10 a.m. – “Spilling it on the page: The health benefits of journaling” with Sharon Bray

11:30 a.m. – Break

12 p.m. – “Self-compassion and emotional alchemy: How to work with your difficult emotions” with Rob Rutledge and Tim Walker

1:30 p.m. – Break

2 p.m. – YACC Talks with Faizal Khamisa

3 p.m. – Break

3:30 p.m. – “Beyond beans: Affordable nutrition tips for mental health and wellbeing” with Erin Roman

5:15 p.m. – “Mindful movement & serenity in stillness” with Angela Bryson or Live Chat for supporters

6:30 p.m. – Break

7 p.m. – Survivor live chat with Gabrielle, Marley, and Mike!

8:30 p.m. – Mindfulness/Yoga

TBA – Social activities

9 a.m. – Morning welcome

9:30 a.m. – YACCer spotlight with Ashley Morine

10 a.m. – “Managing your money during uncertain times” with Greg Youden

11:30 a.m. – Break

12 p.m. – “Creativity, COVID and cancer: How art and creativity can help us in times of stress” with Genevieve Stonebridge

1:30 p.m. – Break

2 p.m. – “Gentle Nia: Moving to heal” with Kathleen Naylor

2:45 p.m. – Break

3 p.m. – YAC Prime panel

4:30 p.m. – “Everything you wanted to know about sex and were not afraid to ask” with Dr. Anne Katz

6 p.m. – Closing ceremonies

TBA – Social activities

Facilitators, speakers, and special guests

Dr. Anne Katz

Dr. Anne Katz is a sexuality and fertility preservation counselor at CancerCare Manitoba. She is the author of This Should Not be Happening: Young Adults with Cancer and a big supporter of YACC.

Fun fact: I wanted to be an architect but couldn’t handle the math!

Workshop: “Everything you wanted to know about sex and were not afraid to ask”

In this session, Dr. Anne will answer any and all questions attendees have about sex, relationships, and fertility. Nothing is too weird to ask! If the walls of her office could talk, they would tell you all sorts of things. But walls can’t talk, so think of the questions YOU want answers for and Dr. Anne will answer them with humour, honesty, and kindness.


Angela Bryson

Angela is the owner and creator of Angels-landing Yoga & Wellness. ​Yoga and fitness are fundamental to her life, keeping her strong, grounded, and centred.

Angela received her 200 CYT training in Costa Rica. Teaching yoga has continually inspired her to acquire a greater depth of knowledge, always seeking, learning, and growing. ​Her classes work with the body’s subtle energy, connecting movement and breath to create a soulful yoga practice with attention to detail and alignment. Great emphasis is put on honouring your body and allowing for both challenge as well as surrender, enjoying your body as it is, today and every day.

Fun fact: Connecting with nature is my passion outside of yoga; the forest, the mountains, the desert — bring it all!

Workshop: “Mindful movement & serenity in stillness”

Join me for gentle yoga-based movement that will free up all of the stuck spaces in your body so that you can enjoy some peaceful stillness in a brief guided meditation. We will use a chair to begin the practice and transition to a space on the floor or on your bed.


Cara Altomare, Psychosocial Oncology Clinician

Cara is a psychosocial oncology clinician with the department of Patient and Family Support Services at CancerCare Manitoba. Since starting with CancerCare in 2016, she developed a passion for supporting caregivers of people with cancer. Cara runs a Caregiver Support Group with her colleague Melanie and has found it to be a very rewarding experience.

Workshop: “Making room for self-care when supporting someone else”

This session will provide an opportunity for supporters to come together to talk about their experiences.


Erin Roman

Erin is a registered dietitian and the nutrition team lead at InspireHealth Supportive Cancer Care in British Columbia. She has a passion for looking at the whole person when seeing patients for nutrition therapy and working together to decrease stress around food choices. She has experience in public health, food security, culinary nutrition, First Nations health, mental health and supportive cancer care.

Fun fact: I attended a humanistic medicine and clowning elective at the Dr. Patch Adams Gesundheit Institute!

Workshop: “Beyond beans: Affordable nutrition tips for mental health and wellbeing”

In this workshop, we will look at the foundations of nutrition and discover simple strategies for helping to support our mental wellbeing with nutrition. There are many factors that can affect our food choices. Did you know that the gut is where an estimated 90 per cent of our serotonin (a chemical involved in regulating mood, appetite and sleep) is made? We will explore this connection and many more to create practices that fit as daily practices. These practices can be simple, affordable and delicious! Easy recipes and simple steps will be shared throughout the session.


Faizal Khamisa 

Faizal Khamisa is a television anchor at Rogers Sportsnet, based in Toronto. It’s a fancy way of saying he gets to talk about sports for a living every day.

Faizal attended the University of Western Ontario, and has an honours degree in Psychology. Following his undergrad, he went to the College of Sports media where he completed a Television and Radio Broadcasting Diploma, and was recruited to work at TheScore television network, where he got his start on national TV. He was awarded the Rottman’s school of management top 5 under 25 in the Sports industry back in 2014.

Faizal is also a cancer survivor, and works closely with kids diagnosed with the illness following his battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 16 in 2005. As a result of the treatment, he had his right hip replaced in 2014, meaning you can definitely beat him in a race. He recently shaved his head for cancer research on live TV, to raise money for Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

Faizal has an extensive sneaker collection, and his suits don’t fit him as well as they did a few years ago.


Genevieve Stonebridge

Genevieve is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at InspireHealth, Supportive Cancer Care in beautiful BC. Through her professional counselling experience and personal cancer diagnosis at age 18, Genevieve has developed a deep appreciation for the way mindfulness and creativity can help provide calm and comfort in times of difficulty. She is passionate about supporting people diagnosed with cancer and their supporters to have authentic conversations with themselves (hello introspection) and each other. She is delighted to be back at the YACC conference for a fourth year — and this time in the zoom world.

Fun fact: I created a collaborative quote corner in my neighbourhood on a lamp post. It has provided many smiles and moments of pause. My favourite so far: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about; be kind always.”

Workshop: “Creativity, COVID and cancer: How art and creativity can help us in times of stress”

Join InspireHealth Clinical Counsellor Genevieve Stonebridge to explore the ways creativity can help. We will explore how creativity can help us revise, reframe, and reimagine ourselves in difficult times. We will explore research about creativity and wellness, and at the end, guide you through a simple creative drawing exercise. Absolutely no art experience necessary! Designed for both the participants diagnosed with cancer and supporters, too.


Greg Youden

Greg has been in the Financial Services industry for 23 years helping clients develop plans for all their financial goals. The clients he works with span all ages and live throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fun fact: I’m a die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan

Workshop: “Managing your money during uncertain times”

We will be discussing general, useful budgeting techniques. We will look at how the current pandemic is impacting people’s finances and what financial aid is available. We will be discussing how to take control of your finances regardless of where you are in life.


Jackie Bender PhD

Jackie is a scientist in the ELLICSR Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship Program, Department of Supportive Care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; and an Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada. Her research focuses on designing and evaluating digital heath innovations to improve the care experience and outcomes of people affected by cancer with a particular focus on peer support interventions.

She leads the TrueNTH Peer Navigation and AYA Connect 4 Health projects and is a member of the YAC Prime team.

Fun fact: Jackie loves animals, yoga, and learning how to garden, and is a one-arm handstand specialist.

Workshop: YAC Prime panel


Kathleen Naylor

Kathleen lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia where she has been teaching Nia as a movement practice for nine years. She believes that music and movement offer healing and provide essential emotional release. By day (and currently by video!) she is a Registered Counselling Therapist with the Nova Scotia Community College.

Fun fact: It’s impossible to predict on any given day whether I will love or hate the crusts on my toast.

Workshop: “Gentle Nia: Moving to heal”

Nia is a movement practice that blends dance, martial arts, and healing arts. Emphasis is on personalizing and adapting the moves in your body’s way, and tapping in to the joy of movement for healing and conditioning. You can participate sitting or standing, or a combination of both.


Dr. Rob Rutledge, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, specializing in breast, prostate, and pediatric cancers. He is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

In 1999, Rob co-created the “Skills for Healing” Cancer Weekend Retreats. These weekend support groups teach a powerful and integrated approach to the cancer diagnosis and ways to heal at levels of body, mind, and spirit.

Rob is the CEO and Chair of the Healing and Cancer Foundation, a registered charity that freely offers educational videos, documentaries, and live and webcasted seminars. He is co-author of the book The Healing Circle, which captures the teachings and inspirational stories from the weekend retreats.

Fun fact: Rob currently dances around his kitchen to the song “Tough Guy.”

Workshop: “Self-compassion and emotional alchemy: How to work with your difficult emotions”

Learn about the power of self-compassion, finding the intelligence in your emotions, and healthy ways to work through difficulties.


Sharon Bray (she)

Dr. Sharon Bray is the author of two books on expressive writing and health, co-editor of an anthology of cancer patients’ writing, and several articles on expressive writing. A former educator, school psychologist and corporate executive, her early stage cancer diagnosis in 2000 re-ignited her love of writing, and since then, she has encouraged patients’ and survivors’ stories of the cancer experience, initiating and leading expressive writing programs at several cancer centres and non-profits. She has also presented her workshops at healthcare conferences in Canada and the US, including the CURE Today forums and the Omega Institute. Additionally, she was an instructor of creative and transformational writing for UCLA extension “Writers’ Program” and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Beginning in 2005, she was invited to lead the annual series “The Writers’ Workshop at Stanford Medical School” for faculty, students and alumni until her return to Canada in 2017.

Sharon earned her master’s degree at Mt. St. Vincent University in Halifax and her doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto, later studying creative and transformative writing at University of Washington, Goddard and Humber Colleges.

She now leads an ongoing expressive writing program for Gilda’s Club in Toronto and this past February, led the first-ever expressive writing workshop for heart patients at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research in Toronto. In addition to her workshops, she authors two regular blogs featuring writing suggestions and thematic posts: for anyone living with cancer, and which is focused on the lived experience of heart failure.

She lives in Toronto with her husband, John, a retired psychologist.

Fun fact: Diagnosed by a neurologist several years ago as having “a loose screw” (I have a steel plate in my forehead, fyi).

Workshop: “Spilling it on the page: The health benefits of journaling”

Virginia Woolf did it, Franz Kafka did it, Joan Didion does it, and so does David Sedaris. What do they have in common? They all keep journals, whether for remembering, story ideas, stress reduction, working through difficult situations, or just spilling their minds and feelings onto the page.

Now wait: You’re probably already saying, “But I’m not a writer.” But you don’t have to be a “writer” to keep a journal. Your journaling is just for you. It’s private, and it’s anything you want to make it — there are all kinds of ways to do it. Best of all, a journal is like having a close friend, a confidant who is always available and ready to listen to anything you are feeling or thinking, all without judgment or comment.

Journaling is not only an outlet for all the stuff you want to express, it’s actually good for your health. That’s something we know from years of psychological research. Even better, journaling isn’t encumbered by rules. There is no need to fret over spelling, grammar or punctuation. You can write anything and in any way that works for you.

Interested in finding out more? Whether you are someone who already journals or you’d like to start, join Sharon and explore why it can be good for you, some of the different ways to journal and a variety of writing prompts and exercises to get you started.


Dr. Sheila Garland

Sheila is a Registered Clinical Psychologist in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Oncology at Memorial University. She provides clinical services to individuals impacted by cancer and has a passion for helping people sleep well during and after treatment. She connected with YACC in September 2015 and was a facilitator at her first YACC retreat in April 2016.

Sheila had two dogs, one cat, and used to rescue and rehabilitate ferrets.

Workshop: YAC Prime panel


Timothy R Walker, Ph.D., CCC, NSRPC – Co-Founder, Director and Chief Spiritual Advisor

Dr. Walker, healer and co-founder of the Healing and Cancer Foundation, has provided the spiritual guidance for the vision and delivery of supportive offerings to those on a cancer journey, through the work of the foundation. He has worked to integrate mindfulness and the psychology of meditation into psychotherapy, education, and healthcare for over 35 years. With a private practice in psychotherapy and mindfulness based stress reduction clinic in Halifax, he teaches meditation retreats and mindfulness workshops across North America.

Topics of particular interest Dr. Walker include: mindfulness within healthcare settings, loving kindness meditation, inner-yoga retreats, and healing circles. His audiences range from government agencies, private organizations, to individuals.

Fun fact: Tim currently loves working in the compost with worms.

Workshop: “Self-compassion and emotional alchemy: How to work with your difficult emotions”

Learn about the power of self-compassion, finding the intelligence in your emotions, and healthy ways to work through difficulties.

Ashley Morine (Ocular melanoma | Inuvik, Northwest Territories)

“My diagnosis came during Christmas and polar night in the arctic. I was 8,000 km away from family.”


Craig Comberbach (Supporter of Dylan Fontaine | Winnipeg, MB)

“I went from being friends with Dylan to becoming best friends with Dylan and his tumour.”


Dan Stolfi

Daniel Stolfi is an Actor, Writer, Producer, Cancer Survivor and Canadian Comedy Award Winner known for his work in the one-person show, Cancer Can’t Dance Like This.  Daniel is a Graduate of the University of Guelph Theatre Program, The Second City Conservatory Program, and has studied comedy in New York City with the Upright Citizens Brigade. Daniel has been performing comedy in various venues across Toronto and cities all over the country for the better part of fifteen years. Some of Daniel’s Stage, TV and Film comedy credits include: Suits (USA Network), The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine, I Martin Short Goes Home (SCTV), Mr. D  (CBC), the multi award-winning series, The Amazing Gayl Pile (CBCGem), Cancel the F—ing Internet (Riverlife Prod.), his one hour comedy specials, Finding Funny, Another Trip Around the Sun, and most recently the 10 year anniversary production of Cancer Can’t Dance Like This – 10 years Later.

Daniel currently resides in Toronto, ON Canada and is in self-isolation with his wonderful wife and producing partner, Jennifer De Lucia, and their super cute dog, Pacino Stolfi.



Dylan Fontaine (Diffuse Midline Glioma | Winnipeg, MB)

“I thought I had enough problems, but then I found I had tumour problems.”


Leah Thompson (Supporter of Dylan Fontaine | Winnipeg, MB)

“In June 2018 I went from having a new boyfriend, to my boyfriend having his sick friend come live with him, in less than a month.”


Morgan McNeely (Stage IV colon cancer | Edmonton, AB)

“Zero fucks given; exploring the best parts of cancer.”

Kathy Stock

Kathy is a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor, singer/songwriter, Big Cancer Hook-up co-host, mom of two, wife of one, and super-engaged member of her local community. As co-emcee, she is back for the fifth time to provide direction and laughs throughout the weekend. We are pumped to have her back for this year’s virtual conference!

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