Speakers & Program

Keynote Speaker

Frank Ostaseski - "Living Fully: Inviting the Wisdom of Death into Life "

In this interactive seminar Frank will introduce The Five Invitations, principles that show us how to wake up fully to our lives. They can be understood as best practices for anyone navigating a life transition, coping with loss or serious illness or a personal crisis. They guide us toward appreciating life’s preciousness.

Weaving together pragmatic tools, real life stories and ancient wisdom, Frank will help us discover how an awareness of death can be a valuable companion on the road to living well, forging a rich and meaningful life free of regret.

Frank will share the distilled, hard-won lessons synthesized from 30 years of being with dying. This dynamic program will utilize meditation, group discussions, experiential exercises and more. The approach is mindfulness based, compassion focused, and relationship centered.

Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and visionary co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, and founder of the Metta Institute. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, Google Headquarters and other respected sites. He regularly teaches at major spiritual centers around the globe. Frank is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Humanities Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

His groundbreaking work has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series On Our Own Terms, highlighted on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and honored by H.H. the Dalai Lama. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. More information is available at: https://fiveinvitations.com

Concurrent Session Speakers

Dr. Nicola Macpherson MD FRCPC (Anaesth) - "Topical Lotions and Potions for Malignant Wounds and Neuropathic Pain"

The development of a malignant wound can be very traumatic for patients and their families. In this presentation I “HOPE” to provide some options to manage bleeding, pain and odour from these devastating wounds. I will introduce a useful mnemonic for holistic assessment of malignant wounds (H.O.P.E.S) and describe various case examples.

In other patients, neuropathic pain from tumour invasion of nerves, or post-herpetic neuralgia can have a significant impact on quality of life. Systemic medications are often ineffective or have intolerable side effects. There are topical options. I will provide some sample cases that will sound very familiar and explain some options that can be considered.

Attendees are welcome to my recipe card collection, which may be helpful for prescribers unfamiliar with these options.

Dr. Nicola Macpherson of Maple Ridge, BC, has faculty appointments in the UBC Departments of Medicine, Anaesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, as well as in Academic Family Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. After medical school in Ottawa, a rotating internship at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC, and three years as a Medical Officer at the National Defense Medical Centre in Ottawa, she completed her anaesthesia residency at UBC in 1992. For the next 12 years she worked as an anaesthesiologist in Prince George and then Maple Ridge, with a brief locum in the Australian outback.

In 2004-05, she completed a “Year of Added Competency” in Palliative Medicine at UBC and earned a Diploma from the American Board of Hospice Palliative Medicine. She has practiced full-time palliative medicine since then. Currently, she provides locum services in Calgary and Fraser Health (BC). She developed and helped present three palliative workshops in Ghana (West Africa) in 2013 and 2015. She has an interest in the care of malignant wounds, especially the use of topical methadone for analgesia and has a growing recipe collection of lotions and potions.

Dr. Hayden Rubensohn, BSc., MD, FRCPC (IM) - "Far Out Therapies: Psychedelics in Palliative Care"

Many people who suffer from life-threatening illnesses experience existential distress and psychospiritual suffering. Typically, this is addressed with psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies that are designed to manage depression and anxiety in palliative care. Unfortunately, these treatment modalities do not work for all people. Psychedelics are powerful medicines that can help to improve interpersonal relationships and engender mystical experiences, which can change a person’s relationship with life and death. These medicines have mounting evidence for their safety and efficacy in palliative populations. While these medicines are still only available through research studies, they are almost certainly going to be a part of routine practice in the coming years, and with growing media coverage it is important for clinicians to be familiar with them.

Dr. Hayden Rubensohn completed medical training at the University of Calgary in 2012. He began his residency training in Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia thereafter, but transferred to the Internal Medicine program in 2014 to pursue the new Royal College Palliative Medicine Subspecialty Fellowship, which he began in June of 2018. Dr. Rubensohn became affiliated with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in 2014 and trained to become a clinical therapist for the Phase 2 MDMA-PTSD clinical trial, which took place between 2014 and 2016. He remains in this role for the current Phase 3 study in Vancouver. His hope is to ultimately study psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in palliative populations to address existential distress and psychospiritual suffering. Dr. Rubensohn is the Medical Director of Thera-Psil, an organization advocating for compassionate access to psilocybin for patients receiving palliative care.

Sarah Kerr, PhD., Death Doula and Ritual Healing Practitioner – "The Healing Power of Ritual "

Drawing on the wisdom of nature-based spirituality, Sarah designs and facilitates ceremonies that help her clients and their families to integrate experiences of illness, death and loss. These rituals honour the spiritual significance of what is happening, and bring healing to the living, the dying and the dead. Come and learn more about the importance of ritual at the end of life.

Sarah Kerr is a Ritual Healing Practitioner and Death Doula who works with dying people and their families in Calgary. She also offers online training in “Doing Death Better” and mentors emerging death doulas. Sarah facilitates private and public healing rituals, and regularly presents on topics of death midwifery and holistic death care.

Marie Webb RN, MSc, CHPCN(C), and Joanne Linsey RN, BScN - "Imposter Syndrome"

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like your friends or colleagues are going to discover you’re a fraud, and you don’t actually know what you are doing? If so, you’re in good company. These feelings are known as Impostor Syndrome. Come and find out more about this syndrome and its impact on our professional roles in palliative care. Strategies to address Imposter Syndrome and mitigate its impact will be presented. There will be a focus on self-care and tips on achieving a work-life balance.

Marie Webb has 43 years of experience as a Registered Nurse with 23 of those years specializing in Palliative Care. She has spent the majority of this time with Home Care, and the last 11 years has specifically been with the Rural Palliative Consult Service. In 2013 she completed her Masters of Science in Palliative Care through Newcastle University. She completed a thesis on the increase in non-cancer palliative patients in the rural setting and their trajectory.

Joanne Linsey has 37 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, and, prior to coming to Calgary in 2011 worked for 10 years in Edmonton’s Palliative Home Care Program. She was part of the Pain and Symptom Team at the Cross Cancer Institute for 3 years and then joined the Calgary Palliative Care Consult Service in 2011, working in a variety of settings including acute care, community, and rural.

Heather Cobb, BSc, PGCE, and Tammy Troute-Wood, RN, MN - "LGBTQ2S+ Basics: Creating Safer and More Welcoming Care "

Research demonstrates that people who identify as a sexual or gender minority have many unmet health needs and may feel afraid to come to healthcare because of discrimination (real or perceived). AHS is committed to providing a respectful environment, where everyone is committed to safe, quality care. AHS strives to create an environment that highly values diversity and welcomes and respects people’s contributions; an environment where everyone, including patients, families, physicians, healthcare professionals and volunteers, feels safe, healthy and valued. Creating safer and more welcoming healthcare increases the quality of care and experience we offer to everyone.

This session will build knowledge, skills and comfort to create safer and more welcoming care for LGBTQ2S+ clients and families. By discussing unconscious bias, inclusive language strategies, and practical tools, participants will learn how to provide care for people at any stage of their healthcare journey.

Heather Cobb is a Sexual Health Promotion Specialist with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and has been working with the Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in Calgary since 2000. An education and teaching professional, Heather works with children, families, teachers and health professionals to improve access to information and provides strategies for teaching, learning and talking about healthy sexuality and relationships.

Tammy Troute-Wood is a Sexual and Reproductive Specialist with Alberta Health Services in Calgary, Alberta. Her passion is building comfort and capacity of health care professionals to incorporate healthy sexuality into their practices.

As AHS Co-chairs for the LGBTQ+ Patient Advisory, Heather and Tammy collaborate closely with community partners to create safer and inclusive environments for everyone.

Concurrent Session Schedule

Concurrent Session A – 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

1A: Dr. Nicola Macpherson, MD, FRCPC (Anaesth) - "Topical Lotions and Potions for Malignant Wounds and Neuropathic Pain"

2A: Dr. Hayden Rubensohn, BSc, MD, FRCPC (IM) - "Far Out Therapies: Psychedelics in Palliative Care"

3A: Sarah Kerr, PhD, Death Doula and Ritual Healing Practitioner – "The Healing Power of Ritual "

4A: Marie Webb, RN, MSc, CHPCN(C), and Joanne Linsey, RN, BScN - "Imposter Syndrome"

5A: Heather Cobb, BSc, PGCE, and Tammy Troute-Wood, RN, MN - "LGBTQ2S+ Basics: Creating Safer and More Welcoming Care"

Concurrent Session B – 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

1B: Dr. Nicola Macpherson, MD, FRCPC (Anaesth) - "Topical Lotions and Potions for Malignant Wounds and Neuropathic Pain"

2B: Dr. Hayden Rubensohn, BSc, MD, FRCPC (IM) - "Far Out Therapies: Psychedelics in Palliative Care"

3B: Sarah Kerr, PhD, Death Doula and Ritual Healing Practitioner – "The Healing Power of Ritual "

4B: Marie Webb, RN, MSc, CHPCN(C), and Joanne Linsey, RN, BScN - "Imposter Syndrome"

5B: Heather Cobb, BSc, PGCE, and Tammy Troute-Wood, RN, MN - "LGBTQ2S+ Basics: Creating Safer and More Welcoming Care"