WHAT IT MEANS TO ‘SHOW UP’ FOR YOUNG ADULTS WITH CANCER

Laurie Tucker, Wig Salon Specialist and Kevin LeNeve, Radiation Therapist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, are the 2015 recipients of the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Care. (Photo: PhotoGraphics UHN)

Read more  about the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence
Click here for the 2016 nomination form for the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence


When Kevin LeNeve was 15, he lost his cousin MacGyver to cancer.

MacGyver, an adolescent and young adult (AYA) patient, had just turned 16 and had hoped to get his driver's licence on his birthday. Kevin remembers how MacGyver had planned his own funeral – right down to the music that would be played.

This month, Kevin is celebrating his one-year anniversary as a radiation therapist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. It holds special meaning not only because MacGyver had hoped to become a radiation therapist, but on March 30, Kevin was awarded the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Care. Radiation therapy supervisor, Veng Chhin, nominated him.

Kevin shared the award with Wig Salon Specialist, Laurie Tucker, who was nominated by 17-year-old leukemia patient Adriana Lombardo, and cancer survivor and volunteer, Nina Betson.
 

 
Kevin works in radiation treatment unit six, where he may see up to 30 different patients per day. (Photo: UHN)

"I've witnessed some truly remarkable interactions with Kevin and his adolescent and young adult patients," says Veng.

"As one therapist put it, 'Kevin is someone who can be seen eagerly looking at a patient's prom pictures, reminiscing about the theme of his own prom, or empathizing with a patient over college exam stress."


 

Laurie instantly makes patients and their family members feel comfortable in the wig salon, located on the third floor of the Princess Margaret. (Photo: UHN)
 

Adriana fondly refers to Laurie as her "honourary auntie".

"When I visit Laurie in the wig salon, she reminds me that I'm just another teenage girl going through a hurdle in my life," says Adriana.

"She doesn't treat you like a cancer patient – she treats you as an equal. You just feel like you're in a regular salon – and we spend the whole time laughing!"​

Read more  about the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence
Click here for the 2016 nomination form for the Michael Kamin Hart Award for Excellence