3rd Global Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Congress


AYA Participation in Congress

As an Accord, it is a mutual priority to ensure that the energy, ideas and presence of AYA patients and survivors is a feature of Global AYA Cancer Congress each year.

As hosts for the 2018 Congress, CanTeen has engaged 3 of their AYA leaders on the Congress Planning Group(CPG); Kathryn Woodward, Joey Lynch and Tilly Gorce.

Kathryn, Joey and Tilly have been contributing with great insight and enthusiasm to the CPG and have also been working with CanTeen’s National Leadership Coordinator, Natalie Hornyak to bring together a range of opportunities for other young people to get involved in the Congress. These include:

  • The Creative Consumer Contributions exhibition showcasing creative expressions of our Congress theme from young people from around the globe. Click here to find out more about the exhibition
  • AYA’s presenting their expertise and experience throughout the Congress program in both plenary and concurrent sessions.
  • An International AYA Survivorship Panel on Day 3 of the Congress
  • Young leaders chairing sessions throughout the Congress
  • Two talented musicians sharing their talents at the Welcome Function. Click here to find out more about the Welcome Function
  • Congress dinner featuring Joey Lynch as MC and Chris Bond as the guest speaker. Click here to find out more about the Gala Dinner
  • A range of videos of AYA survivors and their families shown at the beginning of each plenary session to inspire and connect attendees with the Congress theme
  • Youth Leadership pre-congress workshop: CanTeen’s National Leadership Coordinator will be facilitating an interactive, inspiring and practical workshop alongside a group of the organisation’s most enthusiastic and experienced leaders who will share stories of leadership, techniques for engaging young people, and creativity to help attendees progress their own youth leadership initiatives. Click here to find out more about the workshop

We are delighted to have AYA attendees participating in the Congress, and will be hosting a daily networking/check-in, so our AYA attendees can support one another through the Congress experience, and no doubt build relationships that will outlast the event.

If you have any questions about AYA participation in the Congress, please contact Natalie Hornyak, CanTeen’s National Leadership Coordinator: natalie.hornyak@canteen.org.au

Introducing our National Leadership Coordinator and Young Leaders:

  Natalie Hornyak has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Education, a Diploma in Human Resources and over 15 years’ experience working in youth development and health services. She is passionate about supporting individuals to align head, heart, spirit and body; and systems to align purpose, people, policy and practice. She is a skilled and experienced facilitator confident in designing consumer engagement processes, leadership development programs and training for social service professionals. Natalie has spent over 4 years as the National Leadership Coordinator for CanTeen Australia, developing and implementing the National Youth Leadership Framework.
  Joey Lynch was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in September 2008 and joined CanTeen after undergoing his first Stem Cell Transplant in 2010. Joey reflects on the initial two years of treatment without CanTeen, and the 7 years since and can personally attest to the importance of the youth empowerment, peer mentoring and support that CanTeen provides. Joey is a Member Director of the Board and is completing a degree in International Relations at LaTrobe University, Melbourne. He also works as a journalist for publications such as The Age and organisations such as Melbourne City and Professional Footballers Australia. Joey is on the Congress Planning Group, will be chairing sessions throughout the program and is our MC for the Congress dinner.
  Kathryn Woodward was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2012 and joined CanTeen with her two brothers soon thereafter. Kathryn is now cancer-free and studying a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in her home town of the Gold Coast, having graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Science in 2017. As an active member of the QLD Youth Cancer Services Youth Advisory Group, a Youth Ambassador and Director on CanTeen’s Board, Kathryn feels that CanTeen has allowed her to make meaning from her cancer experience, demonstrate the importance of consumer representation, and make positive changes for other young people living with cancer. Kathryn is a presenting author, on the Congress Planning Group and will be chairing sessions throughout the Congress program.
  Matilda (Tilly) Gorce Matilda (Tilly) Gorce was 18 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer – an epithelioid sarcoma. She believes connecting with other young people with a cancer experience in their lives was the best thing she ever did and says the relief she felt when she started speaking to a CanTeen counsellor was enormous. Tilly is an active member of her local CanTeen leadership group and the WA Youth Cancer Services Youth Advisory Group. She is currently studying laboratory medicine at Curtin University in Perth with a view to pursuing a career in cancer research. Tilly is on the Congress Planning Group and will be chairing sessions throughout the program.
  Emilie Adlide joined CanTeen nearly nine years ago, because both her parents died from pancreatic cancer. She has a long history of leadership with CanTeen, gradually developing skills and gaining responsibility to now sit as Chair of the Board. She finds it incredibly empowering and rewarding, knowing CanTeen continues to hear and respond to the voice of the young people it supports. After completing a Bachelor of Law/Arts at the Australian National University with first class Honours in mid-2016, and qualifying as a mediator, Emilie moved to Western Australia where she works as Legal Associate. Emilie is co-presenting a concurrent session on leadership.
  Madeleine Way connected with CanTeen in 2012 when her Father was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma. Maddy completed a bachelor of Agricultural science with honours in 2016 and is now studying her PhD in the science of cider as the recipient of a Westpac bicentennial foundation Future Leaders Scholarship. Maddy joined the Tasmanian local leadership team in 2016 and quickly took on additional training and responsibility as a Peer Mentor and Youth Ambassador and was recently appointed a Director on the Board. Maddy is co-facilitating the pre-conference workshop on youth leadership and co-chairing sessions throughout the Congress program.
  Sean Dondas was a shy 14-year-old when he first walked into the Perth CanTeen office in 2008, but fast made friends who were the rock that supported him when his Mum passed away a year later. According to Sean, CanTeen is unique because of its belief in young people and what they can achieve. As a Director on the Board Sean shares his life experience, studies of economics, and passion for making a positive difference in the world, Sean is co-facilitating the pre-conference workshop on youth leadership and co-chairing sessions throughout the Congress program.
  Sam O’Toole is from Newcastle and is currently studying a bachelor of music performance on flute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her mum was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in the appendix in 2000 when Sam and her twin sister and I were only 18 months old. They joined CanTeen in 2010, just before Mum passed away in 2011. Sam is a Youth Ambassador with CanTeen, and loves the opportunity to share how counselling, attending the Good Grief program and meeting beautiful friends has helped shape who she is today. Sam is co-facilitating the pre-conference workshop on youth leadership.

 Jessada Phuntuya was your typical teen – stressing out about getting a good result in the HSC, getting his formal suit ready and thinking about pranks to pull on the teachers. All that was interrupted with a diagnosis of Burkitt's Lymphoma in 2014. Throughout his treatment Jessada participated in programs and counselling at CanTeen, and is an now an active member of his local leadership group, a representative on the national advisory group, and one of CanTeen’s most experienced and enthusiastic Youth Ambassadors. Jessada is a qualified enrolled nurse and is currently gaining experience rotating through clinical wards at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney as part of his new-graduate year, although it is ultimately his goal to work in Haematology/Oncology. Jessada will be co-facilitating the pre-conference workshop on youth leadership and co-chairing sessions throughout the Congress program.


Also featuring at the Congress:

Chris Bond: Wheelchair rugby three times gold medallist Chris Bond will be our inspiring guest speaker for the Gala Dinner evening. Chris was 19 years old when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia and contracted a severe bowel infection which sent him into septic shock. The bacterial infection quickly spread throughout his body and gangrene developed in his extremities. Doctors made the difficult decision to amputate both lower limbs, his left hand and four fingers on his right hand. Chris will share his incredible story, from his cancer journey to his life after cancer and what he has achieved since his diagnosis.

  Gabi Vella: CanTeen Youth Ambassador Gabrielle Vella originates from rural NSW, Tamworth. In 2012, Gabi and her two brothers found out that their mum was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. “It seemed like something that wasn’t real, and I really wanted to wake up from this nightmare… but unfortunately it was my new life.” CanTeen supported Gabi with information books, counselling and peer support programs which Gabi says were critical to helping her understand what was going on, process her feelings and make fabulous friends. Gabi Vella will be singing and playing guitar as part of the Congress Welcome Reception.

Rachel Wooley: 20 year old Rachel is in her third year of a Bachelor of Music at the University of New South Wales. Half-way through her year 12 studies in 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma. After months of treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she relapsed the following year with the same disease. After going through more chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, she is now 2 years in remission. Rachel is currently a member of the UNSW Orchestra playing both flute and piccolo and also works part-time teaching students piano, flute and singing. As part of the Welcome Reception, Rachel will be treating us to a beautiful solo flute performance.

  Kyran Dixon: As a proud member of the Kaurna and Narungga clans, Kyran is a founding member of the Aboriginal Youth Cancer Advisory Group, and promotes healthy lifestyle choices among Aboriginal young people. At aged 11, the talented Australian Rules Footballer had to pause his sporting ambitions when he was diagnosed with bone tumour in his hip. After joining the Port Adelaide Football club academy, Kyran had a second diagnosis in 2014, this time Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. While enduring rounds of chemotherapy, Kyran maintained his university studies and graduated in 2016. He’s now an ambassador that actively promotes cancer awareness and research. Kyran will be joining us at the congress as a Plenary Speaker, discussing Cancer in Indigenous AYA’s.

Mette de Fine Licht:
Teenage cancer survivor, author and speaker Mette de Fine Licht has written 10 books, including the memoir, Willpower Girl — A Teenager’s Trek Through Cancer. The book is a rare insight into a teenage cancer patient’s mind with all the fear, doubt and longing for a normal teenage life.
Born in 1985, Mette de Fine Licht was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma when she was just sixteen years old. After undergoing chemotherapy and extensive surgery, which included the placement of an internal prosthesis in her leg, she was cured.
At the 3rd AYA Global Cancer Congress 2018 in Sydney Mette de Fine Licht will speak about the importance of including the patient’s network. She will share insights from her own story and reveal how the nurses and oncologists guided her friends and family to be the best support during her treatments, and what difference that made for her.


Yumiko Shirai: Yumiko is an advocate from the Japanese peer support organization “STAND UP!!”. She was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer in her 20’s and went on to have successful surgery, however it has affected her chance to have children. After treatment, she came across STAND UP!! which was just established and became an active member of the organization. One of STAND UP’s activities is to publish a magazine for young people with cancer. STAND UP publish one issue a year, releasing 30,000 copies to over 300 hospitals nationwide. Each issue has ten stories of survivors, a questionnaire and a discussion on a specific topic related to common problems in their lives during therapies or after treatments. The aim of STAND UP magazine is to let young people who are fighting cancer know that they are not alone. During the congress, Yumiko will participate on day 3’s survivorship panel and share her insights and experiences and also plans to take her learnings from the congress and bring them back to Japan.

 Aggie Kasicka: Aggie was 20 years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 5 years later, Aggie is now cancer free, with a Bachelor Degree in Economics with Hispanic Studies, and currently working as a Management Consultant in London. Being treated at the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Nottingham (United Kingdom), Aggie has directly seen the importance of specialist support for young people with cancer, and the brilliant work that charities such as Teenage Cancer Trust do to improve treatment experience. She is now an active member of the Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Advisory Group and is passionate about increasing awareness, advocacy, and education around cancer in young people.
 Terence Rumblow: Terence connected with Teenage Cancer Trust to share his experiences and struggles with others so they know they are not alone. He offers great insight and ideas to others who have experienced cancer and is motivated by wanting to make a positive change. Terence had defied all the odds and is now in remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. He has learned how to walk (and run) again following a fractured pelvis and vertebrae and is chasing and achieving his dreams and goals, inspiring people along the way.
 Becca Jacobsen: Becca grew up in the Puyallup, Washington, USA. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease lymphoma a month before her 18th birthday, giving her the unique experience of deciding if she wanted to be treated as an adult or child. She elected to be treated as a child at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in the Multicare Health System in Tacoma, Washington. During her time at Mary Bridge, Becca struggled to fit in, not meeting anyone near her own age or life stage and also being too grown up to fit into her child bed. Becca’s experience led her to pursuing her Master’s of Social Work degree and graduating top of her class at Brigham Young University. Becca is now working as a medical social worker for Multicare’s Good Samaritan Hospital. In addition, Becca stands as a Lead Patient Advocate for young adult cancer patient research within Multicare’s Research and Innovation Institute, working directly with Dr. Rebecca Johnson and the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Council in Tacoma(AYAOC). Becca lives with her husband and 4 year old son in Puyallup, Washington.