Meet The Executive
The Oncology Division executive is made up of physiotherapists who share a passion for helping those affected by cancer improve their quality of life and function. They are volunteers dedicated to advancing the practice of physiotherapy in cancer care and improving awareness and accessibility of cancer rehabilitation services. Executives are responsible for keeping the division's members up to date on the latest news, research and education in the field of oncology.
Alex is a physiotherapist practicing in Windsor, Ontario and current chair of the Oncology Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. He completed his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. He is a former clinical lead with Alberta Health Services: Rehabilitation Oncology South and played a key role in development of post-operative care and exercise for the Alberta Breast Surgery Guidelines. He has been involved in many other initiatives at the local and provincial level, including falls prevention among cancer patients, Alberta Palliative Care physiotherapy competency, upper limb dysfunction in breast cancer patients, and is currently a collaborator for ongoing Oncology Rehabilitation projects in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.
A desire to serve people and the reward of personally helping individuals on their journey through cancer eventually lead him to physiotherapy in oncology. He is very proud of the work we do each day for our cancer population and is devoted to promoting the importance of physical therapy as an integral part of cancer care.
Jenna Smith-Turchyn (PT, PhD) is a physiotherapist and Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University. She is also an Associate Member in the Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research at McMaster University and co-chair for the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s Oncology Division. Jenna has an active research program at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.
Her research focuses on exercise oncology and self-management related to physical therapy for individuals living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis, with the goal of maximizing participation and physical functioning. She is also currently exploring implementation strategies for cancer rehabilitation for hard-to-reach cancer survivors.
Mary-Ann is a past (2006-2016) Clinical Director and Research Coordinator of the Rehabilitation and Exercise Oncology Program, Hope & Cope, Segal Cancer Centre in Montreal. As a clinician with 30 years of experience in the management of complex orthopaedic problems, an Executive Director of the Esprit Sport Rehabilitation Centres, and a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, she has coordinated and taught specialized courses in Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine, Biophysical Modalities, and Cancer Rehabilitation. She is a co-founder of the McGill Cancer Nutrition-Rehabilitation Program, and served as an Association Director from 2002 to 2006.
She was a principal investigator on a study of the residual functional effects of radiotherapy in young breast cancer survivors (2011-2015) and a co-principal investigator in Grants (2013) received from the Cure Foundation and the Quebec Breast Foundation on bone health in women receiving treatment for breast cancer. Recent publications (2016-2017) include the results of these studies, as well as a review of Rehabilitation & Exercise Program Development for a global population of cancer patients and implementation of clinical practice guidelines. She has been member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada. As President of the Sports Physiotherapy Division of the CPA, she also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sports Medicine and Science Council of Canada.
Chiara graduated from the University of British Columbia and has worked at the Surrey Memorial Hospital for the past 25 years, and is currently the Clinical Supervisor of the Maternity/Child/Youth and Surgical Programs and the Co-Chair of the Fraser Health Authority Physiotherapy Professional Practice Committee. Her clinical work includes adult and paediatric oncology.
Chiara has also carried out research in the field of oncology looking at arm morbidity after breast cancer surgery. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia. She is also active within the Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia (PABC) as a Board Director and a liaison to their Public Practice Advisory Committee.
Colleen holds a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from Dalhousie University, a Masters of Science in Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation and Health Leadership from Queen's University. Colleen has been a CPA member since serving as Secretary of the National Student Assembly in her undergrad.
Colleen has diverse oncology experience having worked in inpatient hematology, palliative care and ambulatory after care clinics, mostly with breast and head and neck cancers. Colleen has given talks on oncology and physiotherapy in various Forums, from the Central Toronto District Annual General Meeting to the Kuwait Cancer Control Centre, and lectures in Palliative Care at the University of Toronto. Colleen currently works as a Rehabilitation Consultant for survivors of head and neck cancer through a Canadian Cancer Society Innovation to Impact grant.
Denise graduated from McGill University and was one of the founding executives of the Oncology Division. In addition to working clinically in various area, she has conducted research in the areas of identifying barriers for oncology patients to access rehabilitation, education needs of physiotherapy leaders, and barriers to returning to physical activity following GI surgery. She was previously a Community Advisor to Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital for six years.
Denise currently holds an Adjunct Lecturer appointment to the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, where she is the PT lead in the development of the Faulty of Medicine's IPE Palliative Care curriculum. She is an instructor for the Physical Therapy Practice within the Canadian Health Care System course in the Ontario Internationally Educated Physical Therapy Bridging Program, and serves as a clinical facilitator for their oncology and workplace integration modules. In addition, she is a Professor in the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Program at Centennial College.
Amanda is a licensed physiotherapist, certified lymphedema therapist and holistic cancer coach. With over 10 years of experience working in cancer care, Amanda has an intimate knowledge of cancer treatments and is passionate about helping the community to live well beyond cancer.
After completing a Master's in Physical Therapy from McGill University in 2016, Amanda discovered a gap in the continuum of cancer care throughout her home province of Quebec. Thus, over
the years, she has been involved in many initiatives devoted to advancing the field of cancer rehabilitation and improving the awareness and accessibility of cancer care services for all. From 2016-2019, Amanda spearheaded and introduced a multidisciplinary cancer rehabilitation program across 16 private clinics in the greater Montreal area. Furthermore, she fostered key partnerships with acute-care oncology centres and provincial foundations.
In addition to treating patients, Amanda is also a clinical instructor and mentor. She has given many seminars and continuing education courses to the public and other healthcare professionals about cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema therapy. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way of further supporting and educating her patients, Amanda launched and founded The Pink Pros. Her online community provides evidence-based education, resources, exercises, and self-care practices for women affected by breast cancer.
Marize graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Kinesiology and Physical Education and attained a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from McGill University. Marize is a member of both the Professional Order of Physiotherapy of Quebec (OPPQ) and the CPA. She has attained the designation of Clinical Specialist Oncology by the Physiotherapy Specialty Certification Board of Canada and currently pursuing a certification in Lymphedema with the Lymphology Association of North America.
Her research experience in oncology rehabilitation demonstrates her professional leadership and commitment to advancing the science and practice of physical therapy. She has published articles in journals including The Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology, Journal of Cancer Survivorship, Clinical Breast Cancer, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Clinical Oncology, and Rehabilitation Process and Outcome. Recently, as a co-principal invesitgator and clinical supervisor at McGill University, she participated in yielding an evidence-based educational resource tool to minimize fractures in patients with bone metastasis using a patient-education resources education booklet. She is also a co-coordinator of the Oncology Rehabilitation course offered through the School of Physical and Occupation Therapy at McGill University and has taught continuing education courses offered through the OPPQ and CPA. Marize has been an invited guest speaker in several conferences including the most recent one in Chennai, India.
Marize is a licensed Casley-Smith Lymphedema Therapist and a Bone Fit Trained Specialist through Osteoporosis Canada and the specialized training in movement system imbalance. In her spare time, Marize is a Canadian National Paralympic Medical Swimming Classifier who volunteers with an incredible and inspiring group of Canadian para-swimming athletes across the country, and currently working towards becoming an International Classifier and, ultimately, attend the Paralympic Games.
Dr. Shirin Shallwani is a licensed physiotherapist and certified lymphedema therapist, currently completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Her research interests include examining rehabilitation concerns in individuals with cancer, and developing physical activity and rehabilitation support for implementation in cancer care. She is also interested in investigating lymphedema risk-reduction and management approaches in cancer and non-cancer populations. She has been involved in clinical research projects with the McGill Lymphedema Research Program since 2013.
Her recent teaching experiences include lecturing at the University of Ottawa and McGill University. She has been a longstanding member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association Oncology Division executive committee in various capacities, currently serving in the role of Knowledge Translation Representative.
Paula is an internationally-trained physiotherapist and current PhD candidate at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. As a graduate student, she has served as a research assistant and coordinator for studies involving rehabilitation programs for adults with cancer. Her area of research focuses on exploring the benefits of physiotherapy for children and adolescents with cancer with or at risk of developing chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy at the Stollery Children's Hospital. In addition to her research experience, she works clinically in the oncology inpatient and outpatient wards at the Cross Cancer Institute.
Paula was the former National Student Representative for the Oncology Division and now serves as the Knowledge Translation support. Additionally, she is the Research Lead for the Pediatric Oncology Special Interest Group of the International Physiotherapists for HIV/AIDS, Oncology, Palliative Care Empowerment (IPT-HOPE): A subdivision of the World Physiotherapy.