Meet Our Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors is made up of patients, family members, and interested professionals, bringing diverse strengths and perspectives to the organization.
Elaine Dicken was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) in September 2014, but feels that she struggled for 8 or 9 years prior to her diagnosis. Upon learning of her diagnosis, the neurologist advised that there was no drug available and the disease would progress. The neurologist did not know how quickly IBM would progress, but said eventually a wheelchair and daily living assistance would be required. He advised exercise was helpful, but no guidelines or recommendations as to what exercises, how often or how intensive was given. Elaine’s family doctor had another patient with the same diagnosis and that individual put her in touch with a support group in Calgary and MyoCan.
It is Elaine’s hope that in raising awareness and fundraising, MyoCan can inspire researchers to study and develop treatments to cure or control myositis cause and effects.
Bernadette Simms became interested in Dermatomyositis (DM) after learning it is her sister’s ailment. Once she learned how to pronounce and spell it properly, Bernie volunteered to become a director. Bernie sat on a Community Theatre Company Board for 30 years, including 4 years as its President. She was also a member of a Downtown Board for retail.
She hopes to be of some help to MyoCan and bring this little-known disease to the foreground.
Barb Power was diagnosed with Dermatomyositis in 2018 and feels very fortunate that a quick diagnosis allowed her to receive good treatment. Barb owned a retail establishment for 30 years and is currently selling online.
She has sat on many boards in that industry and hopes to use her experience to bring awareness of myositis.
Gael James was diagnosed with Polymyositis in 1995 and is eternally grateful for modern medicine and that she has lived in countries with medicare (Canada, the UK, Australia and Taiwan).
Gael’s goal for MyoCan is to provide a safe and welcoming space for the newly diagnosed; to continue to support those living with and caring for those with myositis; and to raise awareness of myositis, particularly within the medical profession.
Rod Jansen is a retired telecommunications professional. He worked in Canada, USA and the Middle East. An avid tennis player, he started falling for no reason on the tennis court and then at home. In July 2021, after several years of falling and experiencing progressive weakness in his legs and arms, he was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM).
His desire to help others afflicted with IBM lead him to a director position at MyoCan.
Tracy Lawrence learned about MyoCan after her fiancé was suspected of having Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) in October 2021 and had a confirmed diagnosis in October 2022. Since diagnosis, her fiancé has had some very difficult days and has been unable to work due to IBM and is currently on disability. Tracy is hoping to gain and give support to MyoCan.
Knowing she can make a difference in one person’s life makes volunteering worth it to Tracy. Tracy brings 43 years of volunteering experience with her and is thrilled to be a director for MyoCan. In her professional life she is an Accounting Clerk for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sheldon Freelan is a retired Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and has served on the Canadian and Ontario Podiatric Medical Associations during his career
while maintaining practices in Mississauga, Brantford and Whitby Ontario.
Sheldon is married with 5 adult children, 5 granddaughters and 3 grandsons. He loves to travel, attend theater, and enjoys sports and reading. He wasdiagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) in 2018 and hopes to bring his knowledge and expertise in working with Boards and organizations to MyoCan.
Shannon Venance, MD PhD, FRCPC received her PhD from Queen’s University and completed medical school and Neurology residency at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. Dr Venance is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. Her clinical expertise is in disorders of muscle. She maintains an active clinical practice and is interested in patient-centered qualitative research in muscle diseases.
Dr Venance is a member of the Canadian Neuromuscular Group, a site investigator for the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry and is a certified electromyographer through the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists.