Animal Cancer Centre Support Team


Melanie Brooks


Melanie  received  her  RVT  diploma  from  Centralia  College  in  1990.  After graduating,  she  began  working  at  the  Ontario  Veterinary  College.  Melanie started  in  the  Small  Animal  Intensive  care  unit,  and  during  her  time  there  she
saw an increase in the number of patients being treated with chemotherapy .  In 1998,  Melanie  helped  develop  a  specialty  service  that  would  be  dedicated exclusively to cancer patients: the Oncology Service.  She has been an integral part  in  the  development  of  the  service,  and  contributed  to  the  planning  of  the new  Animal Cancer Centre.

Geri Higginson


Geri  Higginson  BSc,  MSc,  RVT  received  her  4  year  BSc (Zoology)  degree  from  Victoria  College,  University  of  Toronto
in  1993  and  RVT  diploma  from  Seneca  College  in  1998.  In 2007,  she  completed  a  MSc  degree  from  the  Ontario
Veterinary  College,  University  of  Guelph  investigating  the effect  of  diet  on  avian  coagulation.  She  has  worked  at  the
Ontario  Veterinary College since 1998, initially with the  Avian &  Exotics  department  and  now  in  the  Oncology  Service.  Geri  loves  to  travel, having  spent  time  in  Asia,  SE  Asia,  and  the  Middle  East,  including  volunteering stint  at  an  animal  nursing  clinic  in  the  Gulf  of  Thailand.  She  is  also  actively involved with running and triathlon  groups  in the Guelph area.

Vicky Marsili


Vicky  graduated  from  St.  Lawrence  College  in  1994.  After graduation,  she  worked  in  private  practice  in  Vancouver  for
two  years.  In  1997,  Vicky  moved  to  Ontario  and  began working  at  the  Ontario  Veterinary  College  in  the  Small
Animal Wards/Canine Blood Donor Program. In 2002, Vicky joined  the  oncology  service.  She  enjoys  being  part  of  the
oncology  team  and  finds  the  position  very  rewarding. When  not  at  work,  she  is  busy  being  a  Mom  to  two
wonderful  kids.

Animal Care Attendant

Jeanette Jones


Jeannette  completed  the  Animal  Care  Program  at  Sheridan College  in  1986.  In  1989,  she  began  working  at  the
University  of  Guelph  in  the  Psychology  department  as  a teaching  and  research  assistant,  where  she  contributed  to
animal  behaviour  studies  and  co-authored  in  published journal  articles.  In  1991,  Jeannette  began  working  at  the
Ontario  Veterinary  College  with  both  small  and  large animals.  In 2010, she joined the oncology team as the primary  animal  care  attendant.  Outside  of  the  OVC,  Jeannette  enjoys farming,  equine trail riding, and grooming dogs.

Radiation Therapists

Laura Furness

Laura  received  her  BSc  from  the  University  of  Guelph  with  a  major  in Biological  Science.  She  then  attended  Seneca  College  to  obtain  her  RVT diploma.  Laura  then  went  on  to  specialize  in  radiation  therapy  and  obtained a  joint  degree:  BSc  in  Medical  Radiation  Science  from  University  of  Toronto and  Medical  Radiation  Therapy  diploma  from  The  Michener  Institute.  Laura works in both radiation  and medical oncology at the OVC.

Clinical Counsellor

Bojena Kelmendi


Bojena is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy . She  is  a  qualified  therapist  and  a  registered  social  worker  with  a  specialized training  in  Cognitive  Behaviour  Therapy  and  Mindfulness  and  working  with
people  experiencing  challenges  in  life  tied  to  grief  and  loss,  anxiety,  panic, depression and stress.  In her private practice she supports individuals, couples, children  and  families  struggling  with  making  difficult  decisions  and  facing  life adversities.  She  is  focused  on  helping  individuals  develop  self-awareness  and a  fresh  insight  into  their  life  situations  and  challenges.  Bojena  has  worked  with clientele  from  different  and  diverse  backgrounds  and  has  supported  clients experiencing concerns over their pet's health status and managing grief over the loss of a pet.

Research and Tumour Bank Coordinator

Kaya Skowronski


Kaya is a two-time graduate from the University of Guelph, who completed her PhD in 2012 in the department of Biomedical Sciences in the OVC.  Her graduate work focused on epigenetic modifications in human colorectal cancer. She joined the Oncology team in 2012 as the Research and Tumour Bank Coordinator, and is excited to be part of such a dedicated team, supporting companion animals that have been diagnosed with cancer. Kaya has witnessed the tumour bank evolve and grow, with the exponential accrual of samples in the bank and patients in clinical trials. The contribution of samples from cancer patients is providing fundamental information that will allow researchers and clinicians to improve the diagnostic and treatment options for cancer patients.