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Myeloma Canada Patient Advisory Council

Early in 2015, the Myeloma Canada Board of Directors approved the creation of the Patient Advisory Council (PAC). The primary purpose of the PAC is to function as an advisory to the Board of Directors on matters important to patients, caregivers and support groups, providing the patient perspective on national and regional issues to the Board.  

One of the major accomplishments of the PAC in 2016 was a national online survey conducted for myeloma patients and caregivers across Canada. The purpose was to gain insight from respondents on the programs and services currently offered by Myeloma Canada and provide suggestions for the future. We would like to thank the PAC for preparing this important survey, the Support Group Leaders for assisting with the distribution of the survey and the hundreds of patients and caregivers who responded with their valuable input.    
The 2016 Support Group Leader's Summit in Edmonton

The PAC also participated and assisted in the planning of several Myeloma Canada events including: the National Conference, Scientific Roundtable, Support Group Leader and Advocacy Summits, the Awareness Day, and the Family Medicine Forum. Most notably however, was the development of the Support Group Leader toolkit, which has been enthusiastically received by Support Group Leaders across the country.

2021 Year in Review

The PAC members are as follows:

Glenn Hussey, Chair 

Glenn, a Newfoundlander, studied at Memorial University before moving to Ottawa where he completed his studies at Carleton University.

He worked for the federal public service for 40 years focusing on policy, strategic planning and client service. Following Glenn’s retirement in 2015, he acted as a caregiver for his wife who was in complex, continuing care until her passing in 2017. Glenn discovered that he had the markers for multiple myeloma in 2008, but didn't require treatment until 2017.

Following back-to-back stem cell transplants in 2018, Glenn is currently medically stable. He is a writer, a fitness lover, and has been an active community volunteer for youth sports (soccer and figure skating).

Glenn continues to share his passion for soccer, especially Manchester United, with family and friends. He was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125 th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada for his contribution to his community.

Email: [email protected]

Manon Veilleux, Vice Chair, Quebec Representative  

Born in Montreal and also living on Orleans Island near Quebec City, Manon started her studies in Business administration at HEC in Montreal and ended them in the Quebec region at Laval University, with a major in finance. She then chose to become a financial planner because she likes numbers, meeting people and accompanying them through their financial health.

Now retired, she finds it important to be engaged in the numerous activities of Myeloma Canada to help the people touched by multiple myeloma live better.  This includes creating the Quebec Support Group, with the precious help of Julie Martel. It is also a sign of appreciation towards the engagement of the Myeloma Canada team for this cause.

She loves to learn new languages, because it allows her to discover a new world every time. Already bilingual since kindergarten, she added Spanish and Italian through the years. She loves reading, travelling with her husband Albert, and both are good walkers accomplishing weekly approximately twenty kilometres.

Email: [email protected]

Susan McLean,  Western Canada representative

Susan is a retired high school English teacher who has studied at many universities: UBC, University of Ottawa, University of Saskatchewan, and McGill. She was also the president of the BC Teachers of English Language Arts and worked with the BC Ministry of Education to help write the new English curriculum. Living in Nanaimo, BC, she enjoys an active outdoor life, yoga, swimming, gym workouts, and playing in an ensemble at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren, travelling, and have lived in five different Canadian provinces!

Susan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2016 and has been in remission for nearly two years. She is the co-support group leader for the Nanaimo Support Group, helped start the first Vancouver Island Multiple Myeloma March, as well as the first Cinco de Mayo fundraising dinner.

Email: [email protected]

Phil Harbridge, Western Canada Representative

Phil Harbridge is husband to Kay, father to Charissa and Nicolette, father-in-law to Austin and grandfather to Teal (born Feb. 11/20). He has worked extensively (39 years) with youth and young adults as; pastor, teacher, writer and professor. Currently Phil enjoys serving with Christian Journeys (helping schools, churches and community groups experience Lands of the Bible), Capernwray Bible School Thetis Island (teaching) and The Chapels Group (officiating weddings).

Phil was diagnosed in February 2019 and had his stem cell transplant in July. Phil’s response to treatment has been significant and he’s continuing to see positive results from the maintenance therapy.

He enjoys listening to peoples’ stories, running, cycling, swimming, tennis, sunshine, coffee and the Edmonton Oilers. Phil has been involved in several Myeloma Canada events (1st Place Team at 2019 Vancouver Multiple Myeloma March), conferences, webinars, and he’s an active member of the Surrey Support Group. 

Email: [email protected].

Rinat Avitzur, Ontario Representative

Rinat was born in Israel and moved to Toronto in 2009 with her husband and three daughters.

Rinat studied accounting and economics at Tel-Aviv University and has a CPA (Isr) designation. She worked for over 30 years in the financial industry in finance and risk management, focusing on adopting new regulations, developing and implementing policies, and supporting management and front-line employees to manage business and operational risks. 

Rinat was diagnosed in February 2020 and underwent tandem stem cell transplants in July and October. Rinat is currently in remission, keeping an active and healthy lifestyle. Since learning about multiple myeloma Rinat has been increasing awareness through fundraising and is an active member of Myeloma Toronto Support Group.

Email: [email protected]

Tanya Zigomanis, Ontario Representative

Tanya Zigomanis who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at 37 years old.  She is a mom of two young girls and has been married for 11 years to her long time best friend, Adam Koroneos. They live in Vaughan, Ontario and have enjoyed travelling down south and exploring Ontario's cottage country in the recent years.

Tanya is currently on leave but is an insurance defence litigation lawyer at a boutique firm in Toronto, with a specialty in WSIB law. She attended Osgoode Hall Law School and worked in government before heading to private practice. 

Tanya was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in May 2019 and had a stem cell transplant in Toronto in September 2019. She achieved a very good partial remission and is hoping her maintenance therapy will help her reach a complete remission.

From June 2019 to September 2020, Tanya has raised over $40,000 for Multiple Myeloma research, mostly through the Multiple Myeloma March in Newmarket. She is determined to spread awareness and raise funds to further myeloma research in Canada.

 Email: [email protected] 

Shawn Crossman, Atlantic Canada Representative

Shawn Crossman is husband to Bev Dawson and proud father to Isabelle Crossman. Shawn stated his own sales and marketing company in 1999 and continues today to enjoy working with so many businesses across Atlantic Canada. Shawn continues to keep in close contact with the community by volunteering with Minor Hockey, Crossman Community Centre, local church, local youth groups, and business development. He loves playing golf, riding his bike, and walking, however is no longer able to play adult hockey due to Multiple Myeloma.

Shawn was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on July 1, 2018, after being admitted to hospital due to back pain. It was then discovered that Shawn had a crushed vertebrae and was showing signs of kidney failure. After back surgery he started a 16-week chemo treatment schedule. After a successful treatment schedule, he was prepared for a stem cell transplant in Jan 2019. Since his stem cell transplant, Shawn has continued to enjoy remission while experiencing a new quality of life.

Shawn hosted the first Moncton Myeloma March in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and has been honored with the 2019 and 2020 Nathalie Allard Memorial Award. Shawn also started the Moncton Myeloma Support Group which continues to be a very active group, listening, supporting each other while offering a new quality of life during our personal Multiple Myeloma journeys while continuing to learn about Multiple Myeloma.

Email: [email protected]