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SickKids

Psychosocial Program

Program overview

A childhood cancer diagnosis can be stressful for the whole family including your child, siblings, caregivers and other family members. The many changes ahead can be overwhelming, confusing and can lead to mental health struggles. This program provides a variety of supports and mental health resources for your family from the time of diagnosis including:

  • Adolescent Medicine Physicians works with teen patients on issues specific to their needs including mental and social stresses, fertility and body image.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Psychiatrists support patients with clinically significant emotional distress and unrecognized or untreated psychosocial conditions related to their cancer journey.
  • Psychologists ensure that every patient has access to customized and continued care that can help prevent lasting, long-term or late development of trauma and avoid other mental health challenges and crises.
  • 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.
  • Social Workers focus on helping meet emotional, social, financial, and practical needs that may arise throughout the cancer journey.  Social Workers develop unique programs to help your family cope through a cancer diagnosis.

Message from program leadership

"Our goal is to help ease the physical, emotional and psychological impact, as well as the burden of cancer our patients experience from the time of diagnosis to help them resume their normal growth and development. Our dedicated team aims to prevent and reduce the incidence of mental health issues and improve quality of life for the whole family."

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

Meet our team

Dr. Sarah Alexander

Sonia Lucchetta
Area of focus: Blood & Marrow Transplantation/Cellular Therapy
Email: Sonia.lucchetta@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 206803

Karyn Positano
Area of focus: Haematology/Oncology Clinic
Email: karyn.positano@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 205692

Laura McGrath
Area of focus: Outpatient Haematology/Oncology
Email: laura.mcgrath@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 206216

Madison Chin
Area of focus: Inpatient Blood & Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy
Email: madison.chin@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 205692

Riann Horan
Area of focus: In-Patient Haematology/ Oncology
Email: riann.horan@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 205692

Jonathan Han
Area of focus: Art Therapy, Inpatient
Email: jonathan.han@sickkids.ca

Toni Mongillo Desideri
Area of focus: Music Therapy, Inpatient
Email: antonietta.desideri@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 208515

Arvinder Aulakh
Area of focus: Toronto
Email: Arvinder.aulakh@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 7868

Cory Murphy
Area of focus: Toronto Central
Email: cory.murphy@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 202185

Lisa Arnott
Area of focus: Barrie/Muskoka/Peterborough
Email: lisa.arnott@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 201590

Pamela Watt
Area of focus: Barrie/Muskoka/Peterborough
Email: pamela.watt@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 201590

Sara Belot
Area of focus: Toronto East/Durham/York Region
Email: sara.belot@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 205893

Tina Hamalainen
Area of focus: Toronto Central
Email: tina.hamalainen@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 202185

Laura Janzen
Area of focus: Neuropsychological Assessment and Consultation (Neuro-Oncology, Leukemia/Lymphoma and Sickle Cell Disease programs)
Email: laura.janzen@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 x205437

Melissa Howlett
Area of Focus:
Email: melissa.howlett@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 208284

Sharon L. Guger
Area of Focus: Neuropsychology, AfterCare Program
Email: sharon.guger@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 204584

Dennis Malplazi
Email: dennis.maplazi@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 224575

Lisa Berardo
Email: lisa.berardo@sickkids.ca 
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 224573

Angela Yohan
Area of focus: Neuro-oncology/Haematology/
Vascular Anomalies
Email: angela.yohan@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 6337

Carly Nishimura
Area of focus: Sickle Cell/Thalassemia, Solid Tumour
Program
Email: carly.nishimura@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 228839

David Brownstone
Area of focus: Brain Tumour Program
Email: David.brownstone@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 6788

Karen Fung
Area of focus: Solid Tumour Program
Email: karen.fung@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 6801

Samantha Timla
Area of focus: Leukemia/Lymphoma & Haemostasis/
Marrow Failure Programs
Email: sam.timla@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 206798

Shawna Markowitz
Area of focus: Leukemia/Lymphoma
Email: Shawna.markowitz@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 206720

Wendy Shama
Area of focus: Leukemia/Lymphoma/Immunology
Email: wendy.shama@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 8920

James Bradley
Area of focus: Hemoglobinopathy Program
Email: james.bradley@sickkids.ca
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 204722

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.

Contact us

For questions about the Pscyhosocial Program please call (416) 813-7500 and ask to speak to Lisa Berardo or Dennis Maplazi.

For general inquiries or information please email haemonc.navigation@sickkids.ca

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