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Our Speakers

Please see CAYAS 2021 below

After graduating in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, Aifric worked extensively within the area of early childhood disability and behaviour analysis.  Pursuing a keen interest in research, a MSc in Research with a special interest in Eating Disorders was completed at Trinity College Dublin.  This further fueled a passion for mental health and wellbeing and led to the completion of the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Trinity College Dublin.  Since qualifying as a clinical psychologist Aifric has worked predominantly in the area of oncology across the lifespan, initially at St Luke's Rathgar, and presently at CHI at Crumlin.  As a mother of two, she fully appreciates the impact of any childhood illness on the entire family, and is committed to helping to empower all patients and their families along their journey.  

Aifric O'Kane

Born in Dublin, Cliona originally completed a Business Studies degree and spent four years working in a marketing job in the finanace sector before making the decision to change careers. She returned to college to study Human Nutrition and Dietetics in Dublin Instititute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin and graduated in 2014. Cliona is a CORU registered dietitian and a member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute. After graduating she worked in Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Temple Street for three years before joining the team in the National Haematology and Oncology Unit in CHI at Crumlin. Cliona is passionate about the pivotal role that nutrition plays in paediatric cancer and supporting families throughout their journey. 

Cliona Godwin

My name is Colin Holden. I’m 23 from Kilkenny. At 13 I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. I got acute pancreatitis and had to have a total hip replacement at 17 due to side effects from  treatment. I am big into health and fitness along with meditation. I want to give back to the cancer community and hopefully make a change for future patients.

Colin Holden
 
 

Donal Buggy is Director Services Delivery & Innovation with the Irish Cancer Society. In his 8 years at the Society, he has previously led the advocacy and strategy development functions.

He was a member of the Irish National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 steering committee, and currently sits on national policy groups on cancer survivorship, palliative care and psycho-oncology.

Donal was invited by the Minister for Health to sit on the Cervical Check Steering Committee and to establish a patient support group for the 221 women identified as having upgraded results as part of the Cervical Check audit.

He holds a BSc from University of Cardiff and an MBA from Smurfit Business School, UCD.

Donal Buggy
  • BSc in Sports Science and Health, PhD Clinical Exercise Physiology

  • Lecturer in Athlone Institute of Technology

  • Clinical Exercise Specialist at ExWell Medical 

  • ITEC qualified gym instructor, studio instructor and PT

  • BACPR qualification in cardiac rehabilitation

  • Strength and Condition Coach Youth/Adults

  • – Clontarf GAA + Shelbournre FC

  • Contact: fskelly@ait.ie

Fiona Skelly

Freya was born in 2005 and from the get-go was obsessed with all things sports related. She was a keen soccer player and Gaelic player and her only concern growing up was whether she wanted to represent Ireland in soccer or Dublin in Gaelic. I think she hoped she’d do both!

On the 5th April 2018, after several weeks of headaches and vomiting we took her for an MRI. That was the moment our lives changed forever, a large mass was found at the back of her head, later diagnosed as Medullablastoma. Brain cancer, she was aged 12.

We had surgery to remove the mass, radiation and then brutal chemotherapy in Crumlin. She spent her 13th birthday in ICU but somehow still tried to go support her teammates at matches on occasion.

We are nearly three years since treatment has ended and life can be tough. She works so hard to claw back her previous life and she inspires us all on what determination actually looks like.

She joined Canteen during lockdown and it’s been the first time we’ve heard her properly laugh, bellyaching laughs! She absolutely adores all the people she’s met online so far and can’t wait until she can meet people in person again. Evelyn is an absolute hero!!

I want to pay tribute to the children we’ve lost on our journey, a particularly close friend lost his battle and we dedicate this to him and his family.

Freya Fitzpatrick
 

A recent graduate from Athlone Institute of Technology, Jennifer successfully obtained a first-class honours in Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physical Activity and Health Science. Jennifer’s research experience includes her applied internship in the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition in the University of Newcastle (Australia) and the Bioscience Research Institute (Ireland). 
Jennifer will begin her PhD in October 2021, co-funded by The Irish Cancer Society and Athlone Institute of Technology. Her project focuses on a health behaviour change intervention for teenagers who have completed active cancer treatment. Incorporating both physical activity and dietary behaviour, this project aims to increase quality of life and physical function. Jennifer aspires to advocate for the inclusion of physical activity and dietary behaviour programmes in cancer care to optimise the health, well-being and quality of life of teenagers who have been affected by cancer.

Jennifer Fitzpatrick

My name is Jessica Heffernan, I am 22 years old and I am from Co. Wicklow. I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia when I was 14 and was treated in Crumlin hospital. Then also when I was 20 I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. I had a chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant in December 2019 and am doing great now. I am hoping to do a PLC course in September in Emergency Care Services as I want to become a paramedic.

Jessica Heffernan

My name is Karl Corcoran, I’m 23 and live in Longwood, Co. Meath. I was diagnosed with High Grade B-Cell Lymphoma in January 2021. Before I started chemotherapy I had surgery on my skull to remove a tumour and replaced with titanium mesh (which I’ve a lovely scar to remember it by). I had 4 rounds of chemo between January and April and I was in remission as of June 2021. I completed my treatment in Beaumont Hospital.

I went to college in Athlone Institute of Technology and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Science with Exercise Physiology. I’m a coach in a gym and planning to return to coaching soon in the next few months.

Karl Corcoran

Dr. Lucia Hartigan is a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist in the National Maternity Hospital and Merrion Fertility Clinic. She completed a two year clinical research fellowship in reproductive medicine and assisted reproduction at University College Dublin, under the mentorship of Professor Mary Wingfield in Merrion Fertility Clinic at the National Maternity Hospital. Her primary research focus is fertility preservation in cancer and she is one of the lead clinicians currently involved in establishing a national Fertility Preservation Programme for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer in Ireland. 

Lucia Hartigan

Dr Michael Capra graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 following which he completed his postgraduate paediatric and specialist paediatric oncology training in the United Kingdom in London and Nottingham. He obtained his Masters in Medical Education (Nottingham) in 2000 prior to commencing his Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Fellowship in The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto in 2001. He was appointed on staff at the same institution in 2003, a post he held until 2006 when he relocated to Dublin to take up a Paediatric Oncology Consultant post in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital (CHI at Crumlin). He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) and a member of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), SIOPEL Childhood Liver Tumour Study Group, SIOPE Brain Tumour Group, the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). He is the chair of the Survivorship subgroup of the Childhood Adolescent Young Adult (CAYA) group within the National Cancer Control Programme.

Michael Capra

Niamh O’Sullivan BScN., Pg.Cert, Pg.Cert., MSc is assistant director of nursing for adolescent and young adult cancer @CHI, Crumlin. Niamh received her nursing degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 2008 . Further study includes Pg. Certs in adult cancer nursing, teenage and young adult cancer care and a MSc in nursing studies through Coventry university, UK. Recipient of the Stephen Sutton award 2018 for academic work and scholarship during teenage and young adult cancer care studies.

Her early nursing career focused on  adult medical and surgical nursing but quickly found interest in cancer specialist services. First worked in dedicated AYA services in Australia across multiple senior nursing roles, returning to Ireland in 2015 and undertaking staff nurse, management and nurse specialist roles in cancer services within St James’s hospital, Dublin. Joined the AYA cancer team in January 2021.

Niamh has a passionate interest in improving outcomes for AYA cancer and to advocate for thoughtful care that respects the priorities and life circumstances unique to AYA cancer patients. Committed to partnering with young people to deliver services and influence policy reflective of AYA needs.

Niamh O'Sullivan
 

Owen Smith is Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine at University College Dublin, Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin and Chief Academic Lead to the Children Hospital Group. He is the National Clinical Lead for Child, Adolescent & Young Adult cancers at the National Cancer Control Programme. Professor Smith also holds the title, Honorary Regius Professor of Physic (1637) in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.

The co-author of more than 400 research original articles, letters, books, book chapters and papers, Professor Smith is a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Pathologists, Royal College of Physicians of Dublin, Royal College of Physicians London, Royal College of Physicians Glasgow, and Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh.  He is a member of numerous associations and societies, including; the Medical Research Council Childhood Leukaemia Working Party, Children’s Oncology Group [USA], the International Berlin Frankfurt Munster Study Group for Childhood Leukaemia, the United Kingdom Children’s Cancer Group, European Working Group on paediatric aplastic anaemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. He is an international advocate for children and adolescents with rare diseases and for expanded access to expensive drugs.

In 2015 Professor Smith was conferred honorary Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his life-long work on cancer in children and adolescents by Queen Elizabeth, on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Owen Smith

Rachael Keating is a senior physiotherapist in haematology and oncology in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin. Rachael’s interest in child and adolescent cancer is rooted in a passion for bettering the outcomes for her patients both during treatment and long into their future following their cancer journey. With an extensive background in paediatric development, Rachael has a thorough understanding of how cancer impacts the growth and maturation of her patients and works to use exercise and physical activity to limit the potential negative effects of treatment. 

Rachael developed her in-depth knowledge in paediatric physiotherapy working in Enable Ireland Early Intervention services in Navan, Co. Meath, and as a member of the orthopaedic team in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin. She is aware of the importance of regular play and sport throughout childhood, and has spent considerable time working with adolescent and young adult GAA athletes both on and off the pitch. She persistently seeks to instil passion and foster self-confidence in her patients

Rachael is a progressive and forward-thinking physiotherapist with a drive to continuously develop her skillset and remain at the forefront of evidence-based healthcare. She is currently undertaking an MSc in Cancer Survivorship in Trinity College Dublin with the hopes of progressing survivorship care and services for all child and adolescent cancer survivors. As part of her MSc, Rachael is conducting a research study exploring levels of physical activity, fitness and quality of life in child and adolescent survivors of brain and spinal cord tumours.

Rachael Keating

Dr Scheryll Alken, MB BCh BAO MRCPI, is a Consultant in Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer at Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin and St James’s Hospital. She received her medical degree from The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2008, Membership of the Royal College of Physicians in
Ireland in 2010 and her Certificate of Specialist Training in Medical Oncology from the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in 2018.
During her training, she undertook a two-year fellowship in Neuro-Oncology and Drug Development at the Royal Marsden Hospital/Institute of Cancer Research. In 2018, she was awarded an inaugural Aspire Clinical Fellowship in Adolescent and Young Adult Medical Oncology.
She is a member of the National Cancer Control Programme’s Children, Adolescent & Young Adult Clinical Leads Group, developing Ireland’s National AYA Cancer Network and sits on the Executive Committee of the Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute. Her research interests include the disparities in care experienced by AYAs with cancer, transition in AYA cancer and the role of exercise in this patient population, along with increasing clinical trial access for young people. She is a founding member of AYA Cancer Ireland, a special interest group for healthcare professionals in Ireland.

Scheryll Alken
 
 
  • CCI Europe committee member and responsible for Survivorship Issues  (lead of the strategic pillar on Survivorship) 

  • Actively involved in survivors community since 2007

  • Former osteosarcoma patient

  • Manager of the Competence centre for Survivorship issues by Childhood Cancer Switzerland

  • Active patient advocate

  • MSc. Degree in Chemistry/Material Sciences from University of Technology Vienna 

Between 2007-2015 in different roles and with different responsibilities: peer mentor, organiser, regional and national co-leader and patient advocate in Austria 
Since 2012 also involved at international level within CCI and CCI Europe  

Meanwhile responsible for the long-term follow-up and survivorship topics in the national umbrella organisation in Switzerland. She is involved in collaboration with health care professionals, responsible for the development of the survivors community on national level as well as for raising awareness about survivorship issues within the community and beyond. 

Zuzana Tomasikova

Brian Lobel is a performer, teacher and curator who is interested in creating work about bodies and how they are watched, policed, poked, prodded and loved by others. His work has shown work internationally in a range of contexts from Harvard Medical School, to Sydney Opera House, to the National Theatre (London) and Lagos Theatre Festival, blending provocative humour with insightful reflection. He regularly works with people living with and beyond cancer, projects of which include Fun with Cancer Patients (Kanazawa, Birmingham, Ghent), BALL & Other Funny Stories About Cancer and A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer (with Bryony Kimmings), There is a Light: BRIGHTLIGHT (Project Director), Kicking Up Our Heels (with Emily Underwood-Lee) at GOSHArts, and more. His book Theatre& Cancer was published in 2019. Brian has received commissions and grants from the Wellcome Trust, Complicite Jerwood, British Council, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and Arts Council England, among others. Brian is a Professor of Theatre & Performance at Rose Bruford College, a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow and the co-founder of The Sick of the Fringe. www.blobelwarming.com

Brian Lobel

My name is Evelyn Griffith and I'm from Kildare. 


I qualified as a nurse (RGN) in 1997 and worked on the oncology ward in the Mater hospital for over 18 months before travelling to Australia for a year. When I returned in May 2000 I worked as an agency nurse again working on the Oncology Unit in the Mater for regular periods.  I started working with CanTeen in May 2001, so am 20 years working with young people with cancer. I then trained in holistic therapies - holistic massage, reflexology and Indian head massage. In 2014 I received my BSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy from PCI College & Middlesex University and work as a psychotherapist on a part time basis. I am a fully accredited member of IACP since February 2018.

Evelyn Griffith

Patricia is married to Jimmy McGrath – they live in Dublin and have 2 sons James and Rory and a grandson Tadhg who is 4.

Rory was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and had treatment in Beaumont, St. Lukes and Crumlin hospitals. He’s now 27 and loves Shelbourne FC, socialising and travelling.   When Rory had to leave the paediatric cancer service in Crumlin Hospital, it became clear that there was nowhere to transition to. Garry Owens and his son Daniel had the same experience.   Together, with the support of Dr. Julianne Byrne of the Boyne Research Institute, they set up CanCare4Living to advocate for long term follow up for CAYA survivors #morethancure

Patricia represents CanCare4Living on the following groups


In her work life, Patricia is co-owner and director of the Abbey Group – a Deloitte Best Managed company 10 years running. The company has offices in Dublin and Edinburgh, comprises of Abbey Ireland & UK, Moloney & Kelly, and the dedicated Abbey Conference & Events division for which Patricia is Business Development Director.   

Patricia McColgan

Mary-Claire is married to Brian and has 3 children, Sophie 22, Alice 18 and William 16. They live in Meath. She practised as a Solicitor in Dublin until 2010.  Alice was diagnosed with Acute Promylocytic Leukaemia in 2013 and was treated at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin for 2.5 years. Alice is now 18 and completed her Leaving Cert in June  and plans to study Arts in NUIG this September. She co founded CCFI (and LIGHT IT UP GOLD for childhood cancer awareness ) in 2013 with a group of parents of children attending Crumlin for cancer treatment. She is a passionate parent advocate for the CAYA and survivorship community whose lived experience is used to highlight many challenges and unmet needs. She believes these should be prioritised, addressed and resolved through collaboration on investment in health and psycho-social supports and services.  
Mary-Claire represents Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland on the following :
Department of Health Cancer Patient Advisory Committee
National Cancer Control Programme, Clinical Leads, Survivorship and Shared Care subgroups.
Irish Cancer Society Childhood and Adolescent Cancer Advisory Group
Childhood Cancer International (Europe)
Children in Hospital Ireland Network of Children’s Illness Groups. 
She is also an Irish Cancer Society  Parent Peer to Peer Support  Network Volunteer

Mary Claire Rennick
 

Anita Kienesberger is the Chair of CCI Europe Committee. Through her past role as Board Member of Childhood Cancer International (2003 – 2014), she put international collaboration high on the national as well as on the European agenda. Mrs. Kienesberger was also a CEO of the Austrian Childhood Cancer Organisation for 20 years. By training, Mrs Kienesberger is a paediatric nurse with specialisation in oncological diseases. She was Head of the Intensive Care Unit at the St. Anna Children´s Hospital in Vienna, Austria for over 10 years. Through her past experiences, she developed a multi-disciplinary approach to childhood cancer care.

Anita holds a master’s degree in international Gender Studies and Feministic Politics.

Anita Kienesberger

My name is Stacey Braddish, I’m 23 years old and from Dublin. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2019 and had chemotherapy and radiotherapy in St. James’s Hospital Dublin. 

I returned to college after treatment and graduated this year. I’m now working as a Cardiac Physiologist in Connolly Hospital. 

 

I published the My-Can planner (available on Amazon and Etsy) to help cancer patients keep track of appointments, symptoms and important information throughout their treatment.

 

I started an Instagram page with some fellow cancer survivors called @cancergram where we share tips and stories from our own experience with cancer as young adults.

 

I hope to use my own experience to make a change for future patients.

Stacey Braddish
 

My name is Stacey Braddish, I’m 23 years old and from Dublin. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2019 and had chemotherapy and radiotherapy in St. James’s Hospital Dublin. 

I returned to college after treatment and graduated this year. I’m now working as a Cardiac Physiologist in Connolly Hospital. 

 

I published the My-Can planner (available on Amazon and Etsy) to help cancer patients keep track of appointments, symptoms and important information throughout their treatment.

 

I started an Instagram page with some fellow cancer survivors called @cancergram where we share tips and stories from our own experience with cancer as young adults.

 

I hope to use my own experience to make a change for future patients.

Laura, a Financial Consultant, lives in Co. Roscommon, with her husband and three children. In 2014 her middle child Isobel (then 21 months) was treated for a Wilms Tumour in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

Isobel had chemotherapy and surgery to remove her left kidney. 12 months post treatment, a routine chest x-ray found a new lesion on her lung and she commenced a seven month treatment protocol followed by surgery to remove part of her lung. Isobel is now thankfully cancer free.

Laura became involved with Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland in 2014 and feels passionate about the work of the charity. She believes Isobel was very fortunate to have had the benefit of early diagnosis and that it is vital that every child receives the same chance to fight this dreadful disease. Increased public awareness of childhood cancer will ultimately lead to more funding and research, early diagnosis, improved survival rates and less side effects from harsh treatment protocols.

Since 2014 Laura has been involved in running several fundraising initiatives to help fund supports and services for children and families affected by Childhood Cancer in Ireland.

Laura Cullinan