Francais
info@saveyourskin.ca

Blog

This Melanoma Awareness Month, Don’t Forget Sun Safety!

Every May is not only Melanoma Awareness Month, but also the beginning of sunny weather and summer plans. This year, while we are sheltering in place, going to the park or for a walk can be a great way to improve your mood; however, it is important to make sure that you are not only socially distancing, but also taking sun safety measures. 

In 2019, the Canadian Cancer Society estimated that of the 220,400 new cancer cases in 2019, 7,800 were melanoma (p. 25). Melanoma counts for 7% of cancer diagnoses for both the youth/young adult (15-29) and adult (30-49) demographics, as per a distribution of new cancer cases (for selected cancers) by age group in Canada (excluding Quebec), in 2011-2015 (p. 14). While the incidence rates for melanoma are not as high as other types of cancer, the mortality rates are substantial: of the 82,100 projected cancer deaths in 2019, 1,300 are expected to be due to melanoma (p. 47). Therefore, it is important to be vigilant in protecting yourself when you are outside in the sun, even if it is a quick trip.

It is true that certain populations are more at risk of developing skin cancer, such as those who have skin cancer in their family, are fair-skinned, or are taking any medication that may suppress their immune system; however, anyone who had frequent or extreme sunburns in adolescence, or continues to spend prolonged, unprotected time in the sun, is dramatically increasing their risk of developing skin cancer, as every sunburn is indicative of skin damage. While some of these circumstances are unavoidable, it is possible to reduce your risk of skin cancer by taking the following precautionary measures while enjoying your time in the sun. We encourage you to share these tips with your friends and family by sharing our Sun Safety Awareness Resources page, which has links to several helpful online and print guides to sun safety and skin cancer awareness.

Prevention

The most important sun safety tip is to limit your exposure to it. Enjoy the outdoors, but take these precautions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunscreen is also your ally. Here are some tips:

  • Carry a travel-sized sunscreen and an SPF lip balm with you at all times, so you are always prepared
  • Get a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and offers UVA and UVB protection
  • Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun
  • Reapply your sunscreen every two hours
  • Cream or lotion-based sunscreens provide better coverage than sprays
  • Make a list of the places you often forget, and cover them first– often-forgotten spots include the tops of feet, backs of hands, neck and ears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before going out, don’t forget to consult the UV Index rating in your area. You can also download UV Index apps such as the UV Index Widget or the Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App. Use guide above to help you interpret UV ratings.

Detection

Throughout the year, it is important to give yourself a self skin-check once a month. If you have a partner, perform them for each other. Take photos of, or write down, any existing moles, so you have a reference in case of any changes. To ensure that you do not miss a spot, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation guide to self-exams. If you see any changes in a mole, any new growths or moles, or you develop a sore that does not heal, get in touch with your health practitioner as soon as possible– it never hurts to be cautious, and earlier detection means earlier treatment. 

When checking your own skin or that of your loved ones, keep in mind the “ABCDEFG’s” of skin checks:

  • A – Asymmetry. The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • B – Border that is irregular. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • C – Colour that is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • D – Diameter. There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than 6 millimeters wide (about 1/4 inch wide).
  • E – Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
  • F – Firm. Is the mole harder than the surrounding skin?
  • G – Growing. Is the mole gradually getting larger?

While checking your skin for moles, you should also be keeping an eye out for actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis. Actinic keratosis generally develops in older people on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Actinic keratosis feels like a rough patch on the skin, and may become visible as red scaly patches; it is often confused with eczema. It may feel tender to the touch. If left untreated, actinic keratosis may develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

 

 

 

 

 

(“Actinic Keratosis.” Scars Center.)

When you are spending time outside this summer, do not forget to take sun safety precautions. Stay safe out there!

Read more

Drawing Contest 2020

The drawing contest is now closed. Click here to find out which three drawings have been selected as finalists and to vote for your favourite one. 

Need something fun to do with the kids? We’ve got just the thing for you!

May is Melanoma Awareness Month and to start the month with a bang, we are launching today our Melanoma Awareness Month Drawing Contest! Drawings must illustrate the following theme: This is what sun safety looks like! The contest winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and will see their design on the next edition of the SYSF t-shirt!

1. How to participate?
✓ Make sure your drawing is drawn on white paper with markers
✓ Fill out our release form and upload a picture of your drawing here before the end of the day on May 15th.

2. Who can participate?
✓ Participants must be 16 years old or younger
✓ Participants must live in Canada

3. Criteria to win:
✓ SYSF will select three drawings and will ask the general public to vote for their favourite one. The participant whose drawing gets the most votes will win the contest.
✓ The winner will be announced on May 31st.

 

We look forward to seeing all your amazing drawings. Let the drawing begin!

Vote here!

Read more

17 BC Municipalities Proclaim May Melanoma Awareness Month

As May marks both Melanoma Awareness Month and the beginning of summer weather, it is imperative that communities across Canada be reminded of the importance of sun safety at this time of year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Canadians to stay home, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t spending time outside. In fact, many have more time than usual to enjoy the outdoors, making sun safety education as relevant as ever.

“COVID-19 has highlighted everyone’s willingness to take drastic measures to preserve our health,” says Kathy Barnard, stage 4 melanoma survivor and Founder of Save Your Skin Foundation (SYSF). “Increased preventative efforts and methods of early detection, particularly in the form of public education, public policy and built environments are also needed to reduce skin cancer rates.”

Skin Cancer in Canada is still on the rise

COVID-19 isn’t the only disease whose rates can be drastically reduced through education and preventative measures. Skin cancer rates in Canada continue to rise, including melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers, despite being 90% preventable.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers COMBINED[1]. While most forms of non-melanoma skin cancer can be surgically removed, melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer. The five-year relative survival rate of melanoma that has metastasized is just 18%.[2]

Despite these figures, many people seek sun without taking the recommended precautionary measures, or believe that only severe burns contribute to one’s risk of skin cancer. In fact, any darkening of the skin, including a tan, is indicative of UV damage.

 

Municipal Proclamations

To increase the reach of SYSF’s awareness campaign this year, a new proclamation initiative invited BC municipalities to take a stance against skin cancer and educate their communities on sun safety through mayoral proclamations.  SYSF is pleased to announce that seventeen BC municipalities, listed below, have accepted SYSF’s invitation to proclaim the month of May 2020 ‘Melanoma Awareness Month’.  Click here to read our full press release.

City of Vancouver

City of Kelowna

City of Victoria

Town of Comox

City of Burnaby 

District of Saanich

City of Richmond

District of Central Saanich

City of New Westminster

City of Prince George

City of Surrey

City of Williams Lake

City of Whistler

District of Mission

City of Nanaimo

City of Langford

City of Campbell River 

 

Mayor of New Westminster, Jonathan Coté, was first to commit to proclaiming May 2020 as Melanoma Awareness Month, and decided to challenge other BC municipalities to follow his example. “Skin cancer is largely preventable, and yet there are more cases now than ever,” said Coté.  “This is why as Mayor of New Westminster, I’m happy to support this important initiative and challenge all BC municipalities to do the same.”

“This is an important initiative, especially for hot, sunny communities like ours,” said Mayor of Kelowna, Colin Basran. “Skin cancer is a serious public health concern, and incidences of the disease are only increasing.”

 

During Melanoma Awareness Month, we invite you to take action by publicly announcing your support of the fight against melanoma.

 

Throughout the month of May, SYSF will be engaged in several initiatives to bring awareness to melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, and ocular melanoma. The month will be starting out with a bang thanks to a new drawing contest aimed at youth. The contest’s theme “This is what sun safety looks like”, will encourage participants to submit drawings depicting actions or environments which help prevent skin cancer. The winning entry will be determined through open voting once the May 15th deadline for submission has passed, with a $100 gift card going to the artist with the most votes.

 

Download our custom banner photo for your Facebook cover photo below, or upload a selfie below to participate in our #WeWillDefeatMelanoma campaign! We will apply our campaign frame to your selfie and post it on our social media channels.

 

 

 

Read more

New COVID-19 Information Hub

Many cancer patients across Canada have experienced changes, delays and cancellations to their regular appointments and treatments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to provide Canadians living with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers with the most up-to-date information and resources related to COVID-19, we have created the COVID-19 Information Hub.

This Hub is designed with resources specifically for melanoma and skin cancer patients, caregivers and their families, as well as general  information, and province-specific resources. The Hub will be continually updated as new information becomes available.

Check out the COVID-19 Information Hub here.

We want to thank all of our patients, caregivers and families for letting us know how the situation with COVID-19 has been affecting their care, and we encourage them to continue doing so.

As the situation progresses, we want you to know that we are connecting with our community of physicians to get as much information as we can. We will continue to update you on any new information as it develops.

We also moderate a Facebook group called Melanoma Connect, where melanoma patients can exchange important information.

If you are a patient with melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support at info@saveyourskin.ca.

Read more

Connecting Ocular Melanoma Patients across Canada

Ocumel Canada has opened up a private Facebook group, Ocular Melanoma Connect, to connect Canadian OM patients and caregivers. We are few in number, very spread out and often feel very alone. Together we will have a stronger voice. This group gives us an opportunity to connect with others, share experiences, imagine and advocate for better care and more services. Please consider joining us.

There is no intent to replace the many other international groups that we all belong to. The group also provides an opportunity to learn about what is happening in Canada to improve OM care. We look forward to meeting you! Welcome to this new meeting place!

We have also developed a contact card in electronic and printed form, intended for distribution at Ophthalmologist and Ocular Oncologist offices and clinics for patients and caregivers to see how to reach us.  Please click on the image below to download the pdf or email us to order the print version – ocumelcanada@saveyourskin.ca

You can also visit the pages we have created the following pages to provide up-to-date links and resources:

Ocumel Canada – About Ocular Melanoma

Ocumel Canada – Helpful Links

Ocumel Canada – Resources and Support

View our February 2019 Webinar: Ocular Melanoma – Innovative Treatments and Beyond. Click here to view the recording, or watch it on our YouTube channel HERE

We hope that information and support will flow in two directions. If you find what you were looking for, or even if you don’t, please engage with us so we know how to constantly improve our efforts. Feel completely free to be in contact by email at ocumelcanada@saveyourskin.ca or by phone at 1-800-460-5832.

Read more

‘A Viking’s Challenge’ Completed

Hip hip hooray! Chris Isfeld and Shawn Bjornsson successfully completed their race: ‘A Viking’s Challenge’! The 30km race across frozen Lake Winnipeg took place on Saturday March 7, 2020.

Chris and Shawn’s adventure began when Chris was still in treatment for melanoma. He had started running again to overcome both the physical and emotional challenges he was experiencing and, one day, saw a photo of his childhood friend Shawn Bjornsson. Shawn had just finished a race in -40°C weather. His cheeks were red and his moustache covered with frost. Chris had a sudden inspiration! He decided to challenge Shawn to race across Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s sixth-largest lake. True to their viking roots, they did not back down from the challenge. They began planning, training and fundraising.

The race, which began in Grand Beach and ended in Gimli, took place during the Gimli Ice Festival and attracted a large crowd of people who welcomed the pair at the finish line with cheers of encouragement.

“The weather was ideal, but the running conditions weren’t,” said Chris, recounting how he felt during the race. “There were large drifts of snow across the trail which made the running very hard going. It felt like we were running on sand.”

“But as soon as I saw the crowd gathered at the finish line, I forgot how hard the race had been. I felt an amazing new surge of energy.”

Chris’ story is an exceptional example of human resilience and courage. And like in many stories of melanoma survivorship, Chris had an ally by his side to support him along the way. Shawn Bjornsson has been an outstanding supporter, literally running beside Chris each step of the way on this recent challenge.

“There were times during the run when I thought we wouldn’t make it. Shawn’s encouragement was crucial,” recounted Chris.

Having completed this heroic challenge, Chris Isfeld plans to take some time to rest and spend time with his family.

“To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet that it’s over. I feel so exhilarated! This was the hardest run I’ve ever done, and to be hearing stories of how it’s inspiring others to give back too is just an amazing feeling,” he said.

As of this writing, Chris has raised almost $20,000! The funds raised will go to Save Your Skin Foundation and the patients we help. You can still donate to Chris’ fundraising page here.

        

 

Read more

Viking’s Challenge 2020

HIP HIP HOORAY! CHRIS ISFELD AND SHAWN BJORNSSON SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THEIR RACE: ‘A VIKING’S CHALLENGE’! THE 30KM RACE ACROSS FROZEN LAKE WINNIPEG TOOK PLACE ON SATURDAY MARCH 7, 2020.

March 7 ,   2020

Chris and Shawn’s adventure began when Chris was still in treatment for melanoma. He had started running again to overcome both the physical and emotional challenges he was experiencing and, one day, saw a photo of his childhood friend Shawn Bjornsson. Shawn had just finished a race in -40°C weather. His cheeks were red and his moustache covered with frost. Chris had a sudden inspiration! He decided to challenge Shawn to race across Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s sixth-largest lake. True to their viking roots, they did not back down from the challenge. They began planning, training and fundraising.

The race, which began in Grand Beach and ended in Gimli, took place during the Gimli Ice Festival and attracted a large crowd of people who welcomed the pair at the finish line with cheers of encouragement.

“The weather was ideal, but the running conditions weren’t,” said Chris, recounting how he felt during the race. “There were large drifts of snow across the trail which made the running very hard going. It felt like we were running on sand.”

“But as soon as I saw the crowd gathered at the finish line, I forgot how hard the race had been. I felt an amazing new surge of energy.”

Chris’ story is an exceptional example of human resilience and courage. And like in many stories of melanoma survivorship, Chris had an ally by his side to support him along the way. Shawn Bjornsson has been an outstanding supporter, literally running beside Chris each step of the way on this recent challenge.

“There were times during the run when I thought we wouldn’t make it. Shawn’s encouragement was crucial,” recounted Chris.

Having completed this heroic challenge, Chris Isfeld plans to take some time to rest and spend time with his family.

“To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet that it’s over. I feel so exhilarated! This was the hardest run I’ve ever done, and to be hearing stories of how it’s inspiring others to give back too is just an amazing feeling,” he said.

As of this writing, Chris has raised almost $20,000! The funds raised will go to Save Your Skin Foundation and the patients we help. You can still donate to Chris’ fundraising page here.

Some pictures of the event

Read more

Rare Disease Day is February 29th

Rare Disease Day is held on the last day of February every year to raise awareness of rare diseases. February 29, 2020 will be the 13th international Rare Disease Day. On and around this day hundreds of patient organisations from countries and regions all over the world will hold awareness-raising activities.

What is a Rare Disease?

There are over 300 million people living with one or more of over 6,000 identified rare diseases around the world.

1 in 12 Canadians is living with a rare disease.

Rare diseases currently affect 3.5% – 5.9% of the worldwide population.

People living with a rare rare disease need equitable access to diagnosis, treatment and care.

 

 

There are several types of rare and dangerous skin cancer. Click on each below to learn more:

 

   .     

 

Events in Canada

Join five national rare disease organizations at an interactive exhibit to bring visibility to the many ways that living with a rare disease can impact the lives of everyday Canadians.

When: Fri, February, 28th, 8am – 6pm

Where: Sam Pollock Square, within Brookfield Place.

What: This exhibit will highlight the experiences of a number of patients from across the country. Public, patients, caregivers, and policymakers are welcome to explore, interact, and share what makes YOU rare.

The event will be hosted by radio personality and broadcaster Josie Dye, who shares a special connection to Canada’s rare disease community.

For us, our partners, and the approximately 1 in 12 Canadians living with a rare disease, every day is Rare Disease Day.

Read more

Cancelled: Join Team Save Your Skin at the BMO Vancouver International Marathon

CANCELLED

The 2020 BMO Vancouver Marathon has been cancelled due to increased COVID-19 concerns and the recent directive from the British Columbia Provincial Health Officer to ban all public gatherings that exceed 250 people.

For more information about the cancellation and how BMO Vancouver International Marathon plans to proceed, please visit: http://bmovanmarathon.ca/covid?fbclid=IwAR0rppmet7rhZK78NtSPVB-Bz4oikxm5dAnfYxla4jwNgYc2sBa4_X3m0Jk

***

This May 3rd, Team Save Your Skin will be running in the BMO Vancouver International Marathon.

Join Rosemary Westie, champion of Save Your Skin Foundation, and other team members in proudly donning the Team Save Your Skin jersey. Our colours and logo have become a symbol of hope for those fighting melanoma. Let’s make our presence known!

Join the team! 

 

The BMO Marathon offers several race lengths:

  • Marathon (42.2 km)
  • Half Marathon (21.1 km)
  • 8 km
  • Relay (Runner A – 12 km, Runner B – 12 km, Runner C – 5 km, Runner D – 13 km)

 

Don’t want to run but still want to support Team Save Your Skin? Wear our jersey while volunteering at the Marathon!

Learn more about the BMO Vancouver International Marathon here.

Rosemary’s  Story

My sister Kath was diagnosed with late stage melanoma back in 2003. Needless to say, it was shattering.  We were petrified that we would lose her, but miracles do happen, and although it has been an uphill battle she is still with us today.  Kath has always been an amazing person, very thoughtful, giving and strong, both mentally and physically.  It is these qualities that have kept her going through her battle with melanoma, and these same qualities that she now calls upon to help anyone else struggling with this form of cancer through the organization we founded together, Save Your Skin Foundation.

Every time I challenge myself to run for melanoma patients, I am humbled by people dealing with real challenges, challenges they did not choose.  So friends, at this time I am reaching out to ask you to join me in running to help spread awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers so that the ones you love never have to experience what Kath and our family went through.

For more information on joining Team Save Your Skin at the BMO Marathon, please contact Rosemary Westie at rwestie@shaw.ca.

Sign up now!

Read more

A Viking’s Challenge – March 2020

Melanoma patient Chris Isfeld is preparing for a 30 km race in subzero temperatures across frozen Lake Winnipeg. He’ll be racing his childhood friend Shawn Bjornsson to raise funds for Save Your Skin Foundation.

The event, which he’s calling A Vikings Challenge, will take place on March 7, 2020.

His Story

Chris Isfeld’s story with cancer starts in 2017. After dealing with back pain for a number of months, he felt sudden excruciating pain in his side. An ultrasound revealed lesions on his liver and large masses on his adrenals. A biopsy of the lesions confirmed  evidence of Melanoma. His scans revealed that the disease was very advanced and the tumor burden was severe.

Very quickly, the pain intensified. Chris had to go to the ER only a month after the biopsy. It was there he realized that he was partially paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors thought that his journey was coming to an end.

Chris was given lifesaving immunotherapy treatment just in time. The treatment was challenging but it proved to be effective. The cancer stopped growing and the side effects became more manageable over the next few months. Soon, he was walking again. By December 2018, just one year after his melanoma diagnosis, he was lacing up his running shoes again. 

The results of his latest PET/CT scan, on November 2, 2019, show an almost complete metabolic response; he is well on the way to becoming NED (No Evidence of Disease).

The Challenge

Chris had been frequently running and practicing yoga to overcome the physical and emotional anguish he was feeling.

In a recent interview with Global News, he said:

“A friend of mine, Shawn Bjornsson from Winnipeg, posted a photo after he did a 5K run in -40, and for some reason, I just made a comment and said, ‘Hey, I’ll race you across the lake,’ just as a joke, But a week later, I thought about it, and thought, ‘You know what, this is an absolutely great idea.’

“It gives me something to focus on, and obviously with my diagnosis, I had gotten to know the people at Save Your Skin Foundation very well, and decided that I should do it as a fundraiser and raise money for them.”

The Race

True to their Viking roots, neither of them can back down from a challenge. On March 7, 2020, the first ever ‘Ice Run Across Lake Winnipeg’ will take place. The race will be about 30 km from Grand Beach, Manitoba to Gimli, Manitoba. They will be running to raise money for Save Your Skin Foundation.

Chris is already a quarter of the way to his goal of raising $30,000 for Save Your Skin Foundation. To learn more about Chris’s story or to donate to his campaign, visit his fundraising page here.

For sponsorship info, please contact: chris.i@designerclosetguys.com

Read more