Kathy prioritizes patient care and support. She was a key player in federal tanning bed legislation for Canada’s Youth and she continues this area of focus on education and awareness, providing emotional and financial support to those dealing with melanoma and carcinoma skin cancers, prevention, access, and support of the ongoing research and treatment of skin cancer – from melanoma to actinic keratosis. As both a melanoma and immunotherapy survivor, Kathleen and her Foundation hope to share the experience and knowledge gained, by leading other patient groups in knowledge and advocacy training to ensure equal timely access to new treatments for all cancer patients.
In 2003, Kathleen was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and by 2005 she was informed that her cancer prognosis was terminal. With limited help but unrelenting effort, Kathleen’s sons were able to locate a doctor who was researching a trial immunotherapy drug. In 2006, Kathleen was given six months to live and it was at this time that she and her family founded Save Your Skin, to ensure that anyone diagnosed with melanoma would not have to travel this journey alone. Her battle with melanoma is ongoing – as long as the disease exists Kathy will ostensibly strive to fight it.
After completing her Bachelor of Education(ECCE) at Capilano University, Kathleen embarked on a career in business as a Corporate Accounting Manager, at Royal Bank of Canada. From there she moved into marketing and communications, as Stakeholder & Government Relations Manager at Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. She was the first woman to ever coach baseball in the Little League World Series. Kathy is also the recipient of the British Columbia Community Achievement Award for her leadership in addressing and raising awareness around skin cancer issues.
Louise Binder is a lawyer and health advocate who has been involved in informing the development of health policy and systemic treatment access practices from a patient perspective for more than 20 years. She started her work in this area in the HIV community in the early 1990s after her own diagnosis and before effective treatments were available for HIV.
She co-founded the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) in 1996, which successfully ensured access to treatments and quality care for people living with HIV by working with the federal and provincial governments and other relevant stakeholders to enhance drug review and approval systems, pricing policies and access to liver transplants for this community. She wrote a paper on universal drug coverage a decade ago while chair of CTAC.
She had a special interest in women’s issues, chairing the Ontario women’s organization Voice of Positive Women for more than a decade, and has been involved in these issues internationally as well. Two years ago, Louise began similar work in the cancer area and is presently a Health Policy Consultant with Save Your Skin Foundation. She has been recognized by many organizations for her work, including receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from her alma mater, Queen’s Law School; the Order of Ontario from the Province of Ontario; and two Queen Elizabeth II medals.
Lia is the Project Manager for CONECTed, the Collective Oncology Network for Exchange, Cancer Care Innovation, Treatment Access and Education. The network was initiated by the Save Your Skin Foundation in collaboration with other patient advocates to be a resource and tool for all patient advocates in Canada to better understand the quickly changing and evolving landscape in Oncology and the challenges and opportunities it would represent for cancer patients in Canada.
Lia graduated from McGill University, in Montreal, with a Bachelor’s of Commerce and after receiving her B.Comm. she earned a certificate in Human Resources. Lia is new to patient advocacy but brings wealth of experience to the role through her career in global marketing and prior to joining the team at the Save Your Skin Foundation, worked for a large global hi-tech distributor organization.
Luke Barnard moved to Vancouver, BC from Mission, BC. He studied a Bachelor of Business at the University of the Fraser Valley and proceeded to work within the Finance Sector for five years. Passionate about health care, the move to studying Occupational Health and Safety with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) was a natural fit for next career steps. With encouragement from friends and family, Luke started to work with the Save Your Skin Foundation (SYSF) in 2017. In his free time, Luke loves to go to the gym and be active outdoors. He also volunteers with the Health Initiatives for Men clinic (HiM) to support a healthy community within the Vancouver, BC core. Grateful for an amazing opportunity with the Save Your Skin Foundation, Luke makes sure that, in his role as assistant to the President of the Save Your Skin Foundation, he drives the education and awareness of skin cancer and how to prevent it here in British Columbia.
Natalie Richardson is a mother to identical twins, writer, and melanoma survivor. She now advocates to raise awareness about this deadly disease, is a spokesperson for Save Your Skin Foundation, and has been sharing the roller coaster journey on her blog, Impatient Patient Momma.
Natalie began her career in sales and finance with a collections agency in Ontario, and built on that a varied base of experience in the technology sector, as Analyst of Customer Support Programs at Open Text Corporation. She then worked at BlackBerry Limited (formerly known as Research in Motion Limited), as Intranet Content Specialist. After an extended maternity leave and several years of self-employment to be home with her daughters, Natalie returned to the finance world with Scotiabank, and then went on to be Cash Office Manager at a Loblaw grocery franchise.
Since her diagnoses of and treatments for metastatic melanoma and subsequent papillary thyroid cancer, Natalie has turned her professional focus to the community of patient support at Save Your Skin Foundation. Natalie aspires to write a book; she is a noted contributor to several Canadian media publications, such as Huffington Post Canada, Her Magazine, and Yahoo! Canada.
Amy is a Marketing and Communications specialist and is currently an Account Director at Village&Co. in Vancouver, BC. Amy provides a variety of marketing, public relations, community management, and design services for the Foundation. Originally from the Fraser Valley, Amy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the Fraser Valley and a Certificate in Journalism from Langara College. She also has a background of five years in International Hospitality Management. Amy brings a diverse skill-set to the team along with a keen eye for detail. She is most passionate about telling real stories that matter and make a difference.
Taylor Tomko (B.A) is currently a student in the Masters in English program at the University of British Columbia with a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship, and her academic record holds multiple conference presentations and essay publications. Taylor has a long history with the Save Your Skin Foundation, which began with volunteering for the organization while she was in high school, until she accepted a permanent position with the Foundation in 2014. Since then, she has brought her writing expertise to the Foundation as a Project Coordinator and Content Writer. Taylor’s other work experience includes University of British Columbia Access and Diversity, and she continues to volunteer for literary initiatives in Vancouver.
The experience Taylor’s family had with melanoma inspired the creation of the Save Your Skin Foundation, which strives to lessen the burden of melanoma on patients in any way possible. Therefore, she is pleased to be able to transfer her academic skills to the not-for-profit sector, and to be able to educate the public about skin cancer and how to prevent it, and directly help melanoma patients and survivors.
Danika is a stage IV melanoma patient. She was diagnosed stage I in 2012, and then stage 4 in 2014. She is now in remission, but is still receiving treatments. She came to SYSF in 2015 with questions about melanoma, and she never left! From Montreal, Danika supports Save Your Skin Foundation with translation, social media, website administration, and communication with Quebec patients. Danika is a nursing student. Despite her illness, she never stopped studying, even while undergoing chemotherapy. She will graduate in December. She is passionate about helping others and her future career will be inspired by her personal journey with melanoma.
Making awareness and education available is crucial. Since 2006, the Foundation has worked to raise awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers focusing on education, prevention and the need for improved patient care.