A little about us and who we are…
Our mission is to ensure through education, discussion and peer support that people living with neuropathy and neuropathic pain — as well as their loved ones — have a place where they can talk, ask questions, and be heard.
- Facilitate education and peer support for individuals and their loved ones who suffer from and/or are impacted by neuropathic pain
- Raise awareness about neuropathy and neuropathic pain among the public and the health care community
- Gather and inform members of our community resources
- Participate in national and international awareness and information exchange with related organizations
- Our stretch goal is to one day of raise funds for neuropathy research
Who We Are
Sylvia Donley, BScN MN is the president of the Calgary Neuropathy Association. Sharing her knowledge and personal experience has become a passion and focus for Sylvia. She believes in the importance of connecting with those living with neuropathy, their family, friends and health care providers.
Sylvia joined the Calgary Neuropathy Association as a member in 2008 and became President of the Association in 2010 when founder Val Shaw-Lewis stepped down. It has been important to Sylvia that the CNA belong to its members and encourages their involvement.
Sylvia worked as a RN completing her BScN following an impact injury to her knee. Post-op, Sylvia was diagnosed with RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). RSD is a fairly rare neurological disorder more recently referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Sylvia has also been rear ended (motor vehicle accidents) several times with both structural and nerve damage to her spine causing nerve damage to the right eye (Third Nerve Damage) and RSD to the right arm. It was after the first car accident that Sylvia obtained her Masters in Nursing.
Linda Petiot joined CNA in December 2015 after hearing Dr. Haxton speak to the group. She was so happy to hear there were things she is able to do for her neuropathy that she joined CNA that day to learn more. Since that day she’s been researching and trying different options for neuropathy and pain relief.
Linda is an independent information technology business analyst who has taken on the Vice-President role as well as management of the CNA website and video production. Linda says, “Even though it is volunteer, working with Sylvia and the rest of this team is the highlight of my career. I feel like I can really make a difference and help people with peripheral neuropathy.” Linda is looking forward to the exciting things the team will do together.
She has hereditary peripheral neuropathy, also called Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) disease, a condition under the Muscular Dystrophy umbrella. Linda also volunteers for CMT Canada, a facebook group that supports Canadians with the condition by researching and providing Canadian-based resources and information.
Louise is an independent marketing communications consultant and Secretary, Board of Directors of the CNA.
Darius Vladeanu is a 4th year student at the University of Calgary studying biological sciences. Darius is looking to apply for medical school in the future.
Dr. James Haxton graduated cum laude from Life Chiropractic College West in the San Francisco Bay area. Just like specialists in the medical field, there are also specialists in the chiropractic profession. Dr. Haxton is a diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (DACNB) which means he has a specialty in chiropractic neurology, also known as functional neurology. This designation is only held by 27 chiropractors in Canada. Studying under Dr. Frederick Carrick, functional neurology has been the centre of Dr. Haxton’s clinic in south Calgary. Treating neurological disorders from neuropathy to Parkinson’s to concussions, the success of functional neurology has superseded traditional neurological methods and produced positive outcomes.
Functional neurologists use the musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and sensory systems (sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing) as they interact with the neurological system (brain) to improve quality of life. They use a variety of treatment modalities including the technique of adjustment as well as other sensory-based treatments to bring about improvements in health. This exciting new field is gaining a lot of steam, especially from media coverage around the success of functional neurology with high profile athletes, such as Sidney Crosby, and Olympic medalists, looking for a competitive edge. In everyday life, many people are utilizing functional neurology after being told their test results are normal but their symptoms are still affecting their daily lives.
As more research is conducted in the field of neurology, functional neurologists can modify and evolve their treatments to conform to the newest standards of care for the best possible results.
Learn More about Dr. Haxton and Functional Neurology by visiting his website here: HeritagePointWellness.com
Sabrina Martini has completed her 4th year of her Bachelors of Science, majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge. During her bachelor’s she contributed to research regarding sleep-dependent hippocampal memory. Her interests lie in all things medical and she was accepted into medical school in 2020.
Courtney Hutchinson is a Calgary-based Registered Nurse and Health Educator. She received her Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2016 from Mount Royal University and plans to get her Masters in the future. Courtney is also the founder of The Wellness Hive, an educational wellness website that promotes a philosophy of living well.
Lisa-Marie McLennan is a University of Calgary graduate, holding her Bachelor of Arts: English Literature major & Psychology minor. She enjoys volunteering in her community, including past work with the Calgary Counselling Centre and and the Women’s Resource Center, continually learning, and travelling often. Pieces of her heart are left in New York, London, Prague, and Budapest. You can find her reading, planning the next adventure, experimenting with a new recipe, or strolling the Bow River while listening to her favorite artists and podcasts.
Mary Armstrong has worked and volunteered for several non-profits. As a former business owner, editing, writing and graphic design were key components of the job, and she continues to contribute in a volunteer capacity while semi-retired. Mary recently joined the CNA after seeing an opportunity online where she can continue to use her skills, and learn about neuropathy in an effort to assist the CNA to reach the many people affected.
In her spare time, Mary enjoys hiking, skiing, photography and travel, and recently became part of the Calgary area film community as a background performer.
Dr. Nikita Burke is a postdoctoral researcher examining the neurobiology of pain, with a focus on microglia and opioids.
During her PhD she examined the role of the immune and monoaminergic systems in the link between depression and pain, and the impact of early life stress on pain-related responding in later life.
Learn More about Dr. Burke and her work on chronic pain in this Alberta Innovates article.
Our board works collaboratively with its members to determine each member’s needs. Every person’s involvement, great or small, is not only appreciated, but is necessary for the organization to exist and flourish.
Thank you to our members for taking ownership and being committed.
A special thank you to the past board members and professional supporters who, through their efforts and contributions have made the association what it is today.
Dr. Douglas Zochodne, M.D FRCPC Neurologist
Dr. Zochodne was our Alberta Health Services (AHS) advisor and advocate for a number of years. His contributions set the bar for our quality of presenters.
Val Shaw-Lewis founded the Calgary Neuropathy Association in March 2001. She was the visionary who took an idea and made it a reality. Val continued to nurture the association for nine years until her retirement from the organization in 2010.