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Psychosocial Program

Message from program leadership

Our goal is to help ease the emotional, psychological, emotional and everyday impact of the cancer journey on patients and families. Along with individual supports, our dedicated inter-professional team is working to deliver targeted supports and programming to prevent and reduce the incidence of mental health challenges and improve overall coping and quality of life for the whole family.

– David Brownstone, Garron Family Psychosocial Program Lead, Social Worker & Dr. Sarah Alexander, Murphy Psychosocial Program Medical Director.

Specialized programs

Even though you or your teenage child is being treated at a children's hospital, teens and young adults have different social, mental health, and informational needs than younger children.

Teen Cancer Connection is a program supporting adolescents and young adults (AYA) who are 13 years or older with cancer or a cancer diagnosis here at SickKids. The program will help AYA:

  • identify their individual needs and receive 1:1 personalized support
  • access education and psychosocial support
  • connect with relevant hospital and community resources and services, and connect with other AYA patients

Email or talk to your oncology team for more information.

Download the AYA Resources List (PDF)

The ACT Initiative focuses on supporting patients and parents/caregivers adjusting to life after the completion of active cancer treatment. During this time, patients and families spend more time at home and in their communities. New routines need to be established and “normal” needs to be redefined.

The ringing of the bell is a significant part of the cancer journey, marking the end of treatment. While this momentous occasion can bring feelings of joy and pride, there can also be feelings of nervousness, anxiety and even sadness. Experiencing a mix of emotions is normal. The ACT Initiative, consisting of the Haematology/Oncology Psychosocial Team, supports processing these emotions, coping and overall mental health.

Please speak with your medical team if you are interested in seeking additional support.

As part of the initiative, resources like websites and videos can be helpful in answering questions about what comes next, addressing some concerns prior to discussing further with your health care team, and more!

Resources for adjustment after active treatment

The Children’s Oncology Group outlines different aspects of an ‘after cancer treatment’ journey for caregivers at various stages including:

Specific to your cancer diagnosis, there may be organizations that have resources tailored to you and your treatment journey.

Resources for coping and mental health after active treatment

General cancer resources

Cancer Learning Hub – AboutKidsHealth 

Haematology resources

For more information about the following topics:

  • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities - Employment Insurance Benefits (EI)
  • Family Caregiver Benefits
    • Compassionate Care
    • Sickness Benefits
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • Ontario Works (OW)
  • Special Services at Home (SSAH)

Please visit our Financial & Legal Assistance page.

Oncology resources

For more information about short term and long term accomodations, please visit our Staying Overnight page.

For more information about the following topics:

  • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities
  • Employment Insurance Benefits (EI)
  • Family Caregiver Benefits
  • Compassionate Care
  • Sickness Benefits
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • Ontario Works (OW)
  • Special Services at Home (SSAH)

Please visit our Financial & Legal Assistance page.

Program roles & staff

Adolescent Medicine Specialists works with teen patients on issues specific to their needs including mental and social stresses, fertility and body image.

Headshot of Chana Korenblum

Dr. Chana Korenblum

Program Lead Area: Teen Cancer Connection

Headshot of Rebecca Cote

Rebecca Cote

Clinical Program Coordinator Area: Teen Cancer Connection

Child Life Specialists play a unique part in your child’s care, helping them cope with stress and anxiety during their treatment through a creative blend of care/therapy including art, music and play-based activities.

Riann Horan

Area: Haematology/Oncology - Inpatient

Madison Chin

Area: Blood & Marrow Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program - Inpatient

Headshot of Karyn Positano

Karyn Positano

Area: Haematology/Oncology - Outpatient

Expressive Art Therapists use a variety of creative arts as a form of therapy to allow patients to express themselves through painting, music and song.

Headshot of Jonathan Han

Jonathan Han

Certified Music Therapist Area: Haematology/Oncology - Inpatient

Interlink Community Nurses provide a valuable link between hospital, home life and community for you and your child including helping to build support systems to help your child be successful at school during their cancer treatment.

Headshot of Arvinder Aulakh

Arvinder Aulakh

Area: Toronto West

Headshot of Cory Murphy

Cory Murphy

Area: Toronto Central

Headshot of Jessica Brooks

Jessica Brooks

Area: Toronto East/Durham/York Region

Headshot of Lisa Arnott

Lisa Arnott

Area: Barrie/Muskoka/Peterborough

Headshot of Sara Belot

Sara Belot

Area: Toronto East/Durham/York Region

Headshot of Tina Hamalainen

Tina Hamalainen

Area: Toronto Central

Psychiatrists support patients with clinically significant emotional distress and can diagnose and treat mental health conditions that may or may not be related to their cancer journey.

Psychologists provide specialized mental health and learning supports. As part of the oncology team, clinical and health psychologists provide evidence-based assessment and treatment for behavioural, cognitive and emotional challenges associated with a child or adolescent’s cancer experience. Intervention is tailored to promote coping and adjustment at the time of diagnosis, throughout treatment and after treatment. Neuropsychology works to identify and asses any learning or memory challenges and assist in developing strategies and educational supports to maximize a child’s potential.

Headshot of Melissa Howlett

Dr. Melissa Howlett

Paediatric Health & Clinical Psychologist Area: Haematology/Oncology

Dr. Joel Tourigny

Paediatric Health & Clinical Psychologist Area: Oncology After Care Program

Headshot of Laura Janzen

Dr. Laura Janzen

Clinical Neuropsychologist Area: Haematology/Oncology

Dr. Sharon Guger

Clinical Neuropsychologist Area: Oncology After Care Program

Resource Navigators provide support to SickKids patients and parents who need community information and help to apply for resources to address their health-care related costs, as well as other specific needs.

For general inquiries, please email:

Megan Casey 416-813-7654 ext. 224575

Headshot of Lisa Berardo

Lisa Berardo 416-813-7654 ext. 224573

Social Workers focus on helping meet emotional, social, financial, and practical needs that may arise throughout the cancer journey. Social workers work at the intersection of health and mental health, providing a variety of interventions to help you and your family cope through the cancer journey.

Headshot of David Brownstone

David Brownstone

Area: Garron Family Psychosocial Program Lead | Neuro-Oncology

Headshot of Sonia Lucchetta

Sonia Lucchetta

Area: Bone Marrow Transplant | Caregiver Support Program

Headshot of Wendy Shama

Wendy Shama

Area: Leukemia & Lymphoma

Headshot of Lisa Robinson

Lisa Robinson

Area: Leukemia & Lymphoma | Standardized Assessments

Headshot of Samantha Timla

Samantha Timla

Area: Leukemia & Lymphoma | Haematosis & Marrow Failure Programs

Fiona Penny

Area: Leukemia & Lymphoma | Groups

Karen Fung

Area: Solid Tumour | New Agents and Innovative Therapy Program

Headshot of Carly Nishimura

Carly Nishimura

Area: Solid Tumour | Sickle Cell & Thalassemia

Headshot of Ashley Sloan

Ashley Sloan (Mat Leave)

Area: Neuro Oncology | General Haematology & Vascular Anomalies

Headshot of Jessie Wong

Jessie Wong

Area: Neuro Oncology | General Haematology & Vascular Anomalies

Headshot of Benita Yi

Benita Yi

Area: After Cancer Treatment (ACT) Initiative

Contact us

For general inquiries or information, please email

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