News

» Go to news main

PhD in Health candidate recognized for her innovation in cancer research

Posted by Stephanie Brown on February 13, 2024 in News
Emily Drake received an award from the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2023 Master’s and PhD Research Training Awards Competition (Danny Abriel photo)
Emily Drake received an award from the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2023 Master’s and PhD Research Training Awards Competition (Danny Abriel photo)

Emily Drake, PhD in Health candidate, was the only PhD Atlantic Canadian winner of the inaugural Canadian Cancer Society’s 2023 Master’s and PhD Research Training Awards Competition and was awarded $52,500. Among her other scholarships, Drake was previously awarded the Faculty of Health’s Leon and Rose Zitner Prize.

Drake has been involved in research and advocacy efforts in the adolescent and young adult cancer field for 15 years. Her PhD dissertation is exploring the experience of transition to palliative care of young adults living with metastatic/advanced cancer. She also co-created the #AYACSM (Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Societal Movement) community on Twitter/X in 2013 — it has since grown to become a global social media healthcare community.

Drake says it is an honour to receive the award from the Canadian Cancer Society and that it is validating to know people see her potential as a cancer researcher. She says it is important to recognize that  part of the funding the Canadian Cancer Society receives comes from people who donate money in honour of their loved ones. In addition to funding research, the award comes with different training opportunities to help winners further develop their skills.

“It is rewarding to have an award recognize your effort and potential. It is incredibly meaningful to  hear from patients, families and other researchers that they appreciate the work I have done in this space. I am grateful for the guidance and support I have received from the patient and caregiver partners on these projects”

She is thankful for the support from her husband, children, family, committee and the Faculty of Health – especially her supervisor, Dr. Lori Weeks.

Cancer is the leading cause of illness-related death for young people in Canada. Drake says limited research is available that explores the needs and preferences of processes and decisions that young people need to make about, and their access to, palliative care.

“Young people face barriers in accessing palliative care – and in some cases, are not offered these services.”

“My ultimate goal in all the different things I do, whether it is my PhD work or advocacy, is to further the field of adolescent and young adult oncology. I am committed to helping  patients and their supporters, and contributing efforts to make care more equitable and better for young people living with cancer.”