Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Every September, we raise awareness to change this for a brighter future.


Enhance your work with Health Care Professional (HCP) – Professional Development Grants.

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is dedicated to supporting Canadian health care professionals working in the area of neuro-oncology and neuroscience.

The Health Care Professional (HCP) – Professional Development Grants allow four (4) health care professionals to access funding to enhance their work and role by attending a medical, scientific or professional development conference / workshop that aligns with the work they do with people affected by a brain tumour.

Please note: Applications for 2021 Health Care Professional (HCP) – Professional Development Grants will open in November, 2020.

Information about the Grant Application Process

Annual Value

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada now offers four (4) $750.00 CAD professional development grants to:

  • A health care professional seeking to attend a neuro-oncology or neuroscience conference or workshop as a speaker, poster presenter or workshop facilitator, or
  • A health care professional seeking to attend a conference or workshop for the purpose of learning a new skill or upgrading for professional development in the area of neuro-oncology or neuroscience with a focus on brain tumours.
Grant Parameters
  • The grant can only be used to cover conference registration fees, travel expenses (i.e.) air, train, taxi, etc. and / or accommodation costs
  • The grant does not cover meals, entertainment, poster material expenses or course tuition
  • Funds must be spent by the end of the calendar year and any unused funds must be returned to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada by the end of the calendar year
  • The funds granted are for the conference / workshop applied for in the 2020 application submitted to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
  • Applicant must work with people affected by a brain tumour in either the neuro-oncology or neuroscience health care field
  • Any health care professional, excluding physicians or pharmacists, are eligible to apply for a professional development grant
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have not previously received an HCP – Professional Development Grant, and who have no other sources of corporate or institutional funding
HCP – Professional Development Grant Recipients
After the conference, grant recipients are required to:
  • Submit a photo and short summary of their conference experience (no more than 250 words) to be published on the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada website and include a photo
  • Contribute to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada website or newsletter with an article or information sheet, or present at a Brain Tumour Information Day Conference, Health Care Professional Symposium or another Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada event within two years of receiving the professional development grant
  • Submit travel expenses from one event only and cannot combine receipts from different events to make up the total of $750 CAD
Application and Deadlines
There are now four (4) recipients in every calendar year.
Two of the grants will be awarded with preference to (pending applications and final scores):
  • One (1) grant for a French-speaking rural HCP
  • One (1) grant for a member of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN)
The fourth HCP Grant will be given to a member of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (pending applications and final scores), in honour of one of our founders Pamela Del Maestro, RN, BSc, CANN member and a co-founder of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
Application Procedure
Applicants are expected to submit a completed application form, including attaching a short paragraph identifying why they wish to attend the conference / workshop and complete the online application form.

2020 Professional Development Grant Recipients:

In their words, here’s what this opportunity means to them.

Ritu Puthen
Nurse Practitioner
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

I would like to sincerely thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their generosity in providing me with a 2020 Healthcare Professional Grant. I applied for this grant to use towards attending the fourth International Conference on Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury, originally scheduled for August 2020 in New York City.  Unfortunately, this conference has postponed at this time, but I look forward to attending once it is rescheduled.

I work as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner within the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Our team sees children from 3 months-18 years of age with a moderate-severe acquired brain injury.  A number of our children have had newly diagnosed brain tumours and some have undergone tumour resection and or removal surgery, and many continue to receive chemotherapy and or radiotherapy while participating in our rehabilitation program. Other children are months after their initial brain tumour diagnosis and management and continue to struggle with varied sequelae requiring rehabilitation support. This group of children and their families face unique medical issues, health-illness trajectories, and psychosocial support needs.

The 4th International Pediatric Brain Injury conference will focus on assessment tools, innovative therapies and devices, rehabilitation programmes, teaching strategies, psychological and social support as it relates to this population of children with brain tumours and more generally, children with acquired brain injury. I hope to incorporate the knowledge I gain from this conference directly into my work with children with brain tumours and their families to improve their overall well-being and outcomes.   Furthermore, attendance at this conference will be an invaluable opportunity to meet other professionals across different countries to learn about current research as it relates to this population.

Thank you again to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for your generous support.

Grissel Crasto
Registered Nurse
Toronto Western Hospital

Studies on brain tumour related epilepsy (BTE) indicates that the risk of seizures is up to 100% seizures in low-grade gliomas and up to 60% in high-grade gliomas. BTE can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life and could add to the burden of living with a brain tumour. Understanding a patient’s seizure type can help determine appropriate anti-epileptic drugs and treatment options. My research proposes the development and use of a mnemonic based assessment tool called the “ICTAL” tool to improve the practice and efficacy of assessing patients’ cognitive, sensory, behavioural and motor functions during seizures with the goal of improving and enhancing patient care. I would like to disseminate my findings to nurses and other healthcare professionals looking to improve the bedside assessments of patients during seizures in EMUs across Canada and the world. As a Registered Nurse, funding to disseminate one’s research is often limited, unpredictable and often rare to come by. The Professional Development Grant from the Brain Tumour Foundation will make sharing this assessment tool with Neuroscience Programs across Canada and the world a reality. This grant will positively impact the lives of thousands of patients in the years to come. I would like to thank the Brain Tumour Foundation for this privilege and honour. I look forward to presenting my research at the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses’ Quadrennial Congress in Darwin, Australia in 2021.

Kathy Baillargeon
Nurse practitioner specializing in adult care (neurosurgery)
CHU de Québec-Université Laval

Kathy BaillargeonI have the privilege of being one of the 2020 Professional Development Awards recipient offered by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. This scholarship will allow me to attend a course offered by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) entitled “From cranial to spine”. This four-day virtual training is offered to specialized nurse practitioners and other advanced care professionals. It is an overview of the various neurosurgical specialties through readings and case studies, with a focus on neuroimaging.

 I am a nurse practitioner specializing in adult care (IPSSA) who practices neurosurgery. I graduated in November 2019 and I am currently completing my integration into the various neurosurgical specialties served by the hospital where I work, the CHU de Québec – Pavillon hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus in Quebec City. I have developed an interest in monitoring neuro-oncology patients and I wish to perfect my training in this specialty. Also, this virtual training opportunity will allow me to perfect my knowledge in neuroimaging, since this part of the training, which is very specific, is not addressed in the IPSSA program.

Carly Cermak
Speech-Language Pathologist

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada grant recipient Carly CermakIt is an honour to be a recipient of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Professional Development Grant for 2020. This funding will be used to attend the fourth International Conference on Paediatric Acquired Brain Injury scheduled in August 2020 in New York City. The focus of this conference will be on the development of innovative treatments, rehabilitation programs, and support mechanisms for children living with acquired brain injuries.

I work as a clinical Speech-Language Pathologist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital with children with acquired brain injuries (ABI). In this role, I assess speech, language, and cognitive communication skills to develop individualized therapy plans for children recovering from an ABI and children requiring rehabilitation after neuro-oncology treatments.

Attending the Paediatric ABI conference this August will increase my understanding of the effects of paediatric brain tumors and recent developments in treatments. In turn, this knowledge will enhance my clinical practice skills for children and families receiving neuro-oncology services. Additionally, attending this conference will be an opportunity to share my doctoral work on long-term language outcomes in early childhood traumatic brain injury.

2019 HCP – Professional Development Grant Recipients

Danae Coggins

I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their generosity in providing me with an HCP Professional Development Grant to speak at the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) Annual Scientific Sessions.

Having just completed my MScN at Western University, I advocated for and created a Clinical Quality Specialist role on the clinical neuroscience’s unit at London Health Sciences Centre. This role was created based on needs verbalized by the nursing staff and leadership as affecting quality and safety of care provided to our neuro patients. Within my new role, I am a champion for patient safety, and have created new guidelines to assist in the care provided to patients in restraints. The guideline supports patient and staff safety as we transition these patients off restraints, which promotes best practices and decreases lengths of stay for those awaiting long-term care or rehabilitation.

Thanks to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s generosity, I can travel to Montreal for the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) Scientific Sessions to promote these new guidelines for the brain tumour population. The CANN Scientific Sessions are always enlightening, educational, and important, and my attendance allows me to disseminate national neuro nursing initiatives to enrich the practice of the nurses working with this unique patient population.

Update: I’d like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for generously supporting my attendance at the 2019 Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses Scientific Sessions in Montreal.

The conference agenda was robust, with innovative research driven by neuroscience nurses from across the country. Speakers were engaging as they discussed recent evidence informing topics such as neuroplasticity after brain injury, neuro-palliative emergencies, and other rich learning opportunities that nurses could directly apply to their scope of practice within the neurological continuum of care. Poster presentations were informative and visually appealing, and as conference attendees, we had an opportunity to attend sessions of the neighbouring Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation Congress to further enrich our learning and exposure to innovative technology used within neurosurgical care.

The conference organizers did a wonderful job in selecting accommodations and healthy fare. They provided live translation services, as the conference was bilingual. They arranged an educational social event at the Musée Pointe-à-Callière, where attendees learned about the history of Montreal dating back to colonization. We even took a tour through the first sewer system ever built in North America!

Without the support of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, I would not have been able to experience everything this conference had to offer, nor would I have been able to share my own research relating to removal of restraints, as well as Indigenous health in nursing education to a diverse group of nurses who can use it to benefit their neuro patients across the country.

Thank you so much.

Victorine Sikati Foko

I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the Professional Development Grant 2019. This funding will be used to attend the 54th Congress of the Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation (NCSF). The CNSF represents the health care professionals whose focus is on illnesses of the nervous system. The CNSF organizes a 4-day Canadian conference every year, during which health care practitioners take accredited science courses to help them in their continued professional development and in the maintenance of their certification.

I have been a nurse in research in the neurological sciences for 12-years at the Neuro-Outaouais Clinic. We offer help to patients affected by many different neurological illnesses (MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, migraines, brain tumours, etc.) and allow their families to participate in discussions around treatments, treatment options, and symptom management. Presently, I coordinate a clinical trial for patients affected by a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

The information I will receive in the context of this conference will allow me to better administer supportive treatments to people affected by neurological disease. I will be equipped to educate and to support them throughout their illness. I am excited to share the newly-acquired information with the other members of my team in order to improve the care and support of our patients. I am also very excited to meet other health care professionals and share experiences.

Sheila Hunt

I am very thankful to be a recipient of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s HCP Professional Development Grant for 2019. I will use this grant to attend the 50th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses (CANN) in Montreal in June.

In my role as a Neuro Nurse Educator for the Neurosurgery Education Outreach Network (NEON), I offer neuro education to nurses at my hospital and region. The purpose of this education is to improve the care of brain and spinal cord patients in hospitals with a neurosurgery program, but especially in hospitals without a neurosurgery program. Teaching nurses to recognize signs of patient deterioration or to be confident their patient is doing well improves the safety and experience of the patient if they can remain in their home hospital and the experience of nurses is better when they are equipped with the tools they need to provide care.

Attending the CANN conference will not only add to my knowledge of working with patients who have brain tumours, it will enhance my ability to teach other nurses and provide an opportunity to share information I have learned from my work. I submitted an abstract about a fourth ventricle (ependymal) tumour and it was accepted as an oral presentation. This presentation will highlight the life altering impact that this type of tumour has on the patient’s quality of life with a specific teaching focus on cranial nerve function. I am grateful for this opportunity.

2018 HCP – Professional Development Grant Recipients

Catriona Leckie, RN MN NP CNN(c), Neuro-Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calgary, Alberta

I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the HCP Professional Development Grant that will be used towards my attendance at the 23rd Annual Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Scientific Meeting and Education Day. I have been working as a Nurse Practitioner in Neuro-Oncology for the last 10 years and currently follow most of our Neuro-Oncology patients and their families in a Nurse Practitioner led, early supportive care clinic. This clinic provides patients and their families with ongoing opportunities to discuss their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options, symptom management, potential rehabilitation needs, community resources available to them and discussions around advance care planning and goals of care. Patients and their families are seen in this clinic on a regular basis throughout their illness trajectory in order to facilitate these conversations. In the past, the SNO conference has provided attendees with a thorough and updated understanding of the principles of clinical Neuro-Oncology, clinical trials, symptom management, palliative care and survivorship. The information gained from attending this conference will improve my ability to provide best supportive care to individuals who have been affected by the diagnosis of a brain tumour, as I will be more informed to educate and support them through their illness trajectory. I look forward to sharing the information I obtain from attending this conference with other members of our team to further improve the quality care and supportive programs we provide. I also look forward to networking with other healthcare professionals specifically interested in the needs of the Neuro-Oncology population to facilitate discussions around ongoing improvements to care and future research ideas. Thank you again, for this opportunity.

Update: Thanks to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s professional grant, I was able to attend the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) in November 2018. At times I know it can be discouraging for patients, families and healthcare providers, when it comes to discussions regarding treatment options available to brain tumour patients. It was inspiring and encouraging however, to see what is presently being done and learn from an abundant number of dedicated scientists, surgeons, oncologists and allied healthcare providers who continue to work together to help improve quality of life and outcomes for our patients internationally.

Some of the interesting discussions that I was involved in during this meeting included, the complexity of the brain tumour microenvironment, immune based therapies, targetable vulnerabilities, improvement in clinical trials, and palliative care-health outcomes, all of which increased my knowledge and ability to optimize patient care. Discussions around early palliative care supported the approach that we have adopted in Calgary, Alberta. It was encouraging to know that what we have been working on continues to be widely supported and sought after. Suggestions regarding a multidisciplinary approach to palliative care, was also discussed and has led to conversations already at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary, regarding our supportive care and long-term follow-up clinics with respect to ongoing improvement in patient outcomes. Thanks again to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their ongoing support!

Emily Drake, BScH, MA, PhD (Student), Health Promotion Consultant, Dartmouth, NS

As the former Director of CancerFightClub, I returned to Dalhousie University to pursue a PhD in Health and study the needs of young adults living with metastatic/advanced cancer. Many of these young adults have a primary cancer diagnosis of the CNS or have a cancer that has metastasized to their brain. There are very few resources nationally and internationally for this population, which is why CancerCon is an important event. CancerCon is Stupid Cancer’s annual international conference. It brings together patients, supporters and healthcare professionals to talk about relative issues to the young adult cancer movement. I have been honoured to be an invited speaker in the past and this coming year. The sessions I have been asked to lead are on social media and for those living with a chronic/metastatic/advanced cancer diagnosis. I am grateful to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for providing me with financial support that will allow me to contribute to this conference and provide important sessions. It will also allow me an opportunity to further my education on relevant issues for young adults living with cancer, contributing back to the PhD and advocacy work that I do.

Update: Thanks to the generous support I received from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada I was able to attend CancerCon in April of 2018. This patient focused event had nearly 650 delegates from around the world. While the primary audience was young people living with cancer, other attendees included caregivers, healthcare professionals, non-profit employees and advocates. I had the pleasure of speaking on a social media panel that provided a question and answer period for a packed room of delegates on topics concerning use of social media in the young adult cancer movement. On the second day of the event, I co-led a session focused on connecting patients living with metastatic/advanced cancer with each other and important resources. Other highlights of the event included a session on survivorship in communities of colour and a keynote by Dan Shapiro, Ph.D, Vice Dean, Penn State College of Medicine. Young adults are a marginalized cancer population and programming concerning their unique needs, like CancerCon, is vital to pushing the young adult cancer movement forward.

Marie-Andrée Roy, RN B. Sc., D.E.S.S.
Clinical Nurse – Coordinator of the Neuro-Oncology Program
CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS

I was a Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Professional Development Grant Recipient in 2018. I used my grant to attend the Montreal Brain Tumour National Conference in October 2018. It was the first time that I attended this conference. I have been working in oncology for almost 20 years and I specialize in care and research for patients with brain tumours.

I found the unifying aspect of this conference particularly interesting : health care professionals, brain tumour patients/survivors and members of various associations attended the event. It highlighted the empathy, respect and warmth of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

This conference allowed me to enhance my knowledge of laser surgery as well as the current state of research and available clinical trials in Quebec, other than just in my hospital centre. I also greatly appreciated Ms. Lyne Morissette’s lecture on resilience in relation to nature. It was very touching and really inspiring!

The event made me realize how much Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada helps its patients through several resource handbooks, numerous resources for health care professionals and events aimed at improving knowledge and promotion of research. Now that I am more familiar with the organization, I will talk about it and consistently refer my patients and their families.

2017 HCP – Professional Development Grant Recipients

Jonathan Russell, Physiotherapist, IRDP, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver, BC

I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the HCP Professional Development Grant, which will support my continuing education to improve my care for patients with brain tumours. I am working as a physiotherapist on an Intensive Rehab Day Program at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre primarily with clients who have acquired brain injuries. I plan to use the HCP grant to attend a Basic Bobath course to improve my treatment of individuals with neurological conditions including individuals with brain tumours. The Basic Bobath course includes theoretical foundations and practical sessions to develop handling and clinical reasoning skills. Bobath therapy uses a problem solving approach that helps the client to work towards personal goals considering their clinical presentation. Often clients with brain tumours that attend the Intensive Rehab Day Program have physical impairments that limit their ability to complete daily activities of living and to take part in recreational or vocational activities. Bobath trained clinicians assist clients to improve their postural control, perform selective coordinated movement, and integrate sensory input into their motor control so that the client can better participate in activities with family, friends, and on their own.

Update: Thank you very much to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for providing the Health Care Professional Grant to assist me in attending a Basic Bobath course in Nov 2017 and April 2018. There were 12 physios who attended the Bobath course with two instructors, which allowed for lots of interaction and specific guidance. We had three weeks of intensive course and clinical work. We were required to complete a written assignment that integrated our course learning in our work with a client. I chose to work with a 32 year old client who had been treated with chemotherapy for metastatic cancer and had suffered a stroke causing hemiplegia. The course helped to improve my assessment, clinical reasoning and treatment skills with this individual and other clients with neurological conditions. I have gained a stronger understanding of the relationship between neurophysiology and my treatment interventions, which has translated to improving the quality of care that I can provide to clients on a daily basis. I appreciate the work that Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is doing to help people with brain tumours, their families and health care professionals. I am grateful for their support of my professional development so that I can better care for clients with brain tumours.

Kelly Boileau RN, BN, IWK, Halifax, NS

I have worked as a registered nurse in the field of oncology for over 20 years. I have recently taken on the role of the Brain Tumour Nurse Coordinator at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I had worked with brain tumours in the past so I thought I knew the population, but boy was I wrong. I realize I had only touched on the tip of the iceberg. I am so excited to work with this population and broaden my knowledge regarding current treatments and outcomes .The impact of a brain tumour diagnosis on the patient and their family is devastating. It is the lifelong challenging post-treatment side-effects that I have been most surprised about. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Professional Development Grant will assist me in attending the second Join the Movement to End Brain Tumours National Conference in Toronto. I see this as an invaluable opportunity for me to navigate within this patient population. I am excited to network with people who share the same goal – to improve the lives of those diagnosed with a brain tumour. I want to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for this opportunity.

Update: I would like to thank Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the Health Care Professional (HCP) Development Grant that I received. I used this grant to attend the 2nd annual Join the Movement to End Brain Tumours National Conference in Toronto. This was my first opportunity to witness in person what an amazing Foundation this is. The conference was full of many wonderful speakers and presentations. I am excited to continue my professional relationship with this passionate group. The members are devoted to caring for those whose lives are affected by brain tumours. This group reminds me of a huge extended family. Since working in this field, I had always been confident in referring patients to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s website but now I cannot sing their praises enough. The level of professionalism and knowledge is amazing. What an amazing resource for anyone across Canada to have available to them.