Letter from the President of the Save Your Skin Foundation

Happy new year!

We are delighted to announce that the Save Your Skin Foundation is now officially ten years old! It has been an incredible honour to represent melanoma patients, caregivers, and survivors across Canada and to be a voice for those who have lost their battle with the disease.

2017 will be another exciting year for the melanoma landscape, with increasing availability of innovative treatment options. As survival rates are taking an upturn due to these new treatments, we are excited to see that our focus now includes supporting a growing community of melanoma survivors. Hope for survival has become a viable option.

This progress comes with challenges. Treatments are still expensive, and the sequencing of treatments and timely negotiations continue to be problematic. Ensuring equal timely access of treatments to people who need them always has been, and continues to be, our primary goal. In 2017, we look forward to working on these challenges with our patients, caregivers, physicians, partners, and decision makers. When we were a small organisation in 2006, our goal was to provide compassionate care and support to those touched by melanoma; today, we are proud to say that we are able to do so collaboratively with the melanoma community.

We could not have come this far without your support. To all of our corporate and pharmaceutical funders, and every person who has donated: thank you. To every member of government and medical professional or scientist we have worked with: thank you. Most importantly, thank you to every patient who has ever contacted the Save Your Skin Foundation. We learn something new from every patient we encounter, regardless of your level of involvement with us.

By working as a team over the past ten years, we have made great strides in the treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. By doing the same in 2017, we can only continue to make progress towards eliminating this disease and making a difference in the lives of many.


Kathleen Barnard


Save Your Skin Founder and President Kathleen Barnard presents at the 2017 Canadian Melanoma Conference

Save Your Skin Founder and President Kathleen Barnard presents at the 2017 Canadian Melanoma Conference

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Save Your Skin Weekly Flashback! [August 14-20th!]

Welcome to the Save Your Skin Foundation media flashback- your weekly guide to the melanoma landscape, and the activities of the Save Your Skin Foundation! This week, we are very excited to announce the launch of our joint project with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, #MelanomaThroughMyLens! The photo diary beautifully illustrates the journeys of six Canadians’ battle with melanoma, including Kathleen Barnard and Danika Garneau of Save Your Skin. If you are interested in learning more about the Save Your Skin survivor community, check out our I’m Living Proof initiative!

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Friday, August 26th and Save Your Skin’s next webinar! This post-ASCO review will feature Dr. Omid Hamid, Director of the Melanoma Center at the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute! More details can be found in the banner below.



Here are some links we shared with you this week:

Our pal Natalie Richardson’s blog about the #MelanomaThroughMyLens project over at The Impatient Patient!

This University of California San Francisco article which predicts immunotherapy response in melanoma

This Newsmax Health article about sun damage removal procedures

This article on BBC News about the importance of sun safety for motorists

This blog post on Everyday Maeve about Sun Angels UV protective arm sleeves for kids!

This OncLive article about the rapid pace at which new treatment options are approved

This article in Melanoma News Today reporting a study by the Melanoma Institute Australia and Royal North Shore Hospital of The University of Sydney about the life quality improvement of patients receiving Opdivo


Thanks for reading, stay sun safe out there!



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Moles and Skin Self-Examination

Moles are the most common indication of melanoma and other skin cancers; luckily, they can be kept track of with skin self-examinations. According to the National Cancer Institute, those with more than 50 common moles have an increased chance of developing melanoma (“Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Risk of Melanoma”), which is why it is important to self-examine your skin (and your loved one’s skin!) every month.

There are no hard and fast visual rules about which moles might and might not develop into melanoma, however there are some guidelines you can follow when self-examining your skin to judge if any of your moles should be checked out by a physician.

Firstly, there are two kinds of moles. Common moles are, as the name suggests, common and less likely to develop into skin cancer (even though instances of common moles developing into melanoma do occur). The other kind of mole, the dysplastic nevus (plural nevi), has an abnormal appearance in comparison to the common mole. While dysplastic nevi are more likely to develop into skin cancer than common moles are, dysplastic nevi are not a definite sign of skin cancer. However, it is important to pay particular attention to changes in dysplastic nevi during your self-examinations.

Check out our page Skin Check Guide for more information!

The National Cancer Institute recommends that you look for the following changes in both common moles and dysplastic nevi, and to see a physician if any one of them occurs:

  • The color changes
  • It gets smaller or bigger
  • It changes in shape, texture, or height
  • The skin on the surface becomes dry or scaly
  • It becomes hard or feels lumpy
  • It starts to itch
  • It bleeds or oozes

(“Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Risk of Melanoma”. National Cancer Institute)

In addition to these changes, there are some more obvious signs that a mole may be developing into melanoma. Be aware that there are several types of melanoma and skin cancer, which manifest in disparate ways; it is important to track all changes on your skin, even if they do not appear to be indicative of melanoma. A good rule to follow here is the ABCDE’s of early melanoma detection, which the National Cancer Institute identifies as the following:

  • Asymmetry. The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • Border that is irregular. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Color that is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • 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).
  • Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

(“Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Risk of Melanoma”. National Cancer Institute)


Tips for an effective self-examination

Now that you have an idea of what to look for, it’s important to get the most out of your monthly self-examination as possible. Here are some tips for being as thorough as possible:

  • Use a full length and handheld mirror
  • Perform your self-examination in a well lit area
  • Have someone else check areas you can’t see
  • Write down and take photos of any new discoveries, such as changes or new moles; this will be helpful if you need to contact your physician
  • Remember to check often forgotten areas such as: fingernails and toenails, scalp (using a comb and/or blowdryer), the bottoms of feet and in between toes, ears, and underarms

Thank you for reading, and we hope this post encourages awareness and skin self-examinations! If you would like more information, look to one of our sources below. While the principles of self-examination are universal, be aware that not every website we source content from is Canadian.


Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Risk of Melanoma”. National Cancer Institute. 11.01.11.

How to Check your Skin for Skin Cancer”. National Cancer Institute. 09.16.11.

About Melanoma: Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma”. NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Melanoma. 2014: National Comprehensive Cancer Network Foundation.

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Save Your Skin Weekly Flashback [June 25th-July 1st, 2016]

Welcome to the Save Your Skin Foundation media flashback- your weekly guide to the melanoma landscape, and the activities of the Save Your Skin Foundation! It’s an exciting week for the skin cancer community, with the Post-ASCO 2016 Conference in Munich, Germany and the Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy (Canadian Cancer Immunotherapy Consortium and BioCanRx) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which Save Your Skin Founder Kathy Barnard opened with a discussion of life “beyond the curve” of melanoma. Keep an eye on our facebook page and twitter for updates on both conferences!

We are also excited to announce that we have been featured in the Summer 2016 issue of Canadian Skin, which includes a profile on the Save Your Skin Foundation and a testimonial from one of our board members, Christian Mosley!

Finally, we are still running our survey on sun safety behaviour, which you can fill out here. We appreciate it!



Here are some links and images we shared with you this week:


– This image from Post-ASCO in Munich, which suggests an alteration to the ABCDE (now the ABCD!) rules of clinical mole recognition:


This article from Modern Medicine Network outlining the S3 international guidelines for actinic keratosis

This article from Dermatology News reporting the findings of a study done by the US National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (SEER), which “highlight[s] the heavy death toll of thin melanomas”

This article from Ecancernews reporting the suggested links between immunotherapy drugs, such as ipilimumab and nivolumab, and arthritis

This News Wire article announcing that Merck has approved Keytruda for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma that have not been treated with ipilimumab

This article in Bel Marra Health suggesting that the development of vitiligo may be indicative of immunotherapy response

This article in Trib Live about awesome Mohs histologist Danielle Deroy Pirain, who had a sunscreen dispenser installed in Mt Lebanon Park, Pennsylvania!

This link to the Aim at Melanoma Foundation’s Memorial Wall. If you would like to include a loved one’s name on the Memorial Wall, you can do so here.

-And this Fierce Medical Devices article about the partnership between Australia’s IBM Research and Melanoma Institute Australia to build on IBM’s MoleMap, which seeks to identify patterns in early stage melanoma



Thank you for reading, be sun safe out there!



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Save Your Skin Weekly Flashback [June 18-24, 2016]

Welcome to the Save Your Skin Foundation media flashback- your weekly guide to the melanoma landscape, and the activities of the Save Your Skin Foundation! It’s the first week of summer in the Western world, which means it’s definitely time to start thinking about sun safety! Check out our recent blog about sun safety here. We’re also running a summer sun safety behaviour survey, which we would love for you to fill out! You can find it here.


If you missed the flashback last week, it is our pleasure to inform you that Save Your Skin Founder Kathy Barnard was awarded a BC Community Achievement Award in May! Shaw TV will be airing the event for the rest of June and into July; a broadcasting schedule can be found here.
Here are some images and links we shared with you this week:

  • This cute video from Leo Pharmaceuticals about sun safety
  • This article from Sundicators about protecting your skin from the sun 
  • The American Academy of Dermatology’s new Melanoma PSA, “‘Arms’” 
  • This link to the draft of the Government of Canada’s Guidelines for Tanning Equipment Owners, Operators, and Users, with a feedback opportunity 
  • This article in Targeted Oncology announcing that the Melanoma Institute Australia and the University of Sydney have deemed the combination of pembrolizumab and ipilimumab as a safe treatment for advanced melanoma 
  • This article in Fierce Pharma that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has approved Bristol-Meyer’s combination of Opdivo and Yervoy for advanced melanoma patients
  • This Today piece about the “Mr. Sun” campaign, which aims to warn families about the possibly severe consequences of childhood burns 
  • This HelloGiggles article debunking 13 myths about sunscreen and skin cancer 
  • This piece from Cure Today  about the 2014 Cancer Experience Registry Report, “Elevating the Patient Voice”


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A Sun Safety Reminder from The Save Your Skin Foundation!

Summer has officially begun, and while it’s off to a cloudy start here at Save Your Skin in Vancouver, it’s important to remember sun safety during your outdoor activities! Though it is tempting to get a tan during the summer, keep in mind that the Canadian Cancer Society cites exposure to ultraviolet radiation as the greatest risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Melanoma is often a preventable disease, yet it is estimated that in 2017, 7, 200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and 74, 000 with non-melanoma skin cancer. That is why it’s essential to keep sun safety in mind if you’re working or playing outside this summer!

If you choose to wear sunscreen, it should have at least SPF 30, with UVA and UVB protection. The high SPF ensures that you will be well protected if you apply every two hours, while UVA and UVB protection shields you from both longer and shorter UV rays, respectively. It is a good idea to reapply more frequently if you are sweating or swimming, as moisture can rinse away sunscreen, and if you are at the beach, as sand can reflect ultraviolet rays. Remember to apply sunscreen to areas which are often forgotten, such as the back of your neck, your ears, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet. If you are concerned about the chemical compositions of sunscreen, you can stay sun safe with organic sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide as their only active ingredient. They are available at most drug stores. Whatever sunscreen you use, remember to apply it fifteen minutes before leaving the house, so the ingredients have time to be absorbed into your skin!

There are ways to protect yourself from UV rays as an alternative, or in addition, to wearing sunscreen. These include wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent ocular melanoma, and a hat to shield the top of your head and neck and long sleeved shirts and pants. It is wise to seek shade whenever possible, especially when you don’t have the protection of sunscreen or clothing.

Sun safety is especially important for children. There are links between intermittent and intense sun exposure (resulting in burns) in adolescence and the development of skin cancers later in life, and skin cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian youth from 15-35 years old. While it is a good idea to introduce your children to sun safety early, keep in mind that the developing skin of babies is sensitive to both UV damage and the chemicals found in sunscreen. It is therefore best practice to keep babies out of the sun as much as possible.

If you live in a city with inconsistent weather, it is important to be protected even when the sun isn’t shining. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that up to 40% of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can still reach the earth through clouds, so it is important to consider sun safety even when the sky is grey. While we recommend wearing sunscreen every day, check a UV index app if you need convincing; if the UV index is higher than 3, the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking full sun safety measures. While we may take it for granted, the skin is our largest organ, and it deserves to be taken care of!

Thanks for reading! On behalf of the The Save Your Skin Foundation, have a great and sun safe summer!



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Save Your Skin Weekly Flashback [June 10-17, 2016]


Welcome to the first Save Your Skin Foundation media flashback- your weekly guide to the melanoma landscape, and the activities of the Save Your Skin Foundation! The Save Your Skin Foundation is riding high on recent successes this week; in May, Save Your Skin Founder Kathy Barnard was awarded a BC Community Achievement Award, and the event is being re-broadcast by Shaw TV! The airing schedule can be found here. In addition, the donations have been counted and our recent #unbeach fundraiser raised $15, 000, which is enough to help fifteen patients with their treatment, transportation, and meal costs! These events, running alongside National Sun Awareness Week (June 2-12), have granted Save Your Skin a great start to the summer!



Here are some articles we shared with you this week:

  • This announcement by CNW that Canada’s Health Technology Assessment Agency has approved OPDIVO™ to treat non- small cell lung cancers
  • This PharmaTimes announcement that unfortunately, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has rejected use of Roche’s Cotellic/Zelboraf as a treatment for melanoma
  • This piece from the New England Journal of Medicine comparing the use of Pembrolizumab versus Ipilimumab in Advanced Melanoma
  • This article by the Indianapolis Star, which discusses the positive changes in the melanoma landscape thanks to new treatments
  • This article by Medscape about the dawn of ‘precision prevention’ of melanoma
  • This coverage by KCCI News down in Des Moines on the rising rates of melanoma in children and teenagers
  • This rundown by the Aim at Melanoma Foundation about genetic risk factors for melanoma
  • And this Bayshore Broadcasting coverage of the Canadian Cancer Society’s awesome Mudmoiselle fundraiser! If you’re in the Beaver Valley area, there is still time to register!

Thank you for supporting the Save Your Skin Foundation! Don’t forget sun safety while you’re outdoors this week, and we’ll see you on the next media flashback!


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See SYS Founder Kathy Barnard Receive Award on Shaw TV!

Starting today, Shaw TV will be airing the BC Community Achievement Awards, one of the recipients being Save Your Skin Founder Kathy Barnard! See below for air times in your area!

Her Honour Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon presents awards to 32 BC recipients, for their outstanding contributions to their communities.
Length: 90 minutes
A shorter version is also available on the Foundation’s website:
Air Times:
BC Interior
(starting June 15 and running to June 26)

Kelowna, Vernon-Salmon Arm, Penticton, Merritt, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George – Wed, Fri, Sun @ 7pm
Kamloops – Wed @ 7pm, Fri @ 7 pm, Sun @ 5:30pm
Dawson Creek, Fort St. John – Wed @ 7pm, Fri @ 8pm, Sun @ 7pm

Shaw Metro Vancouver
As far east as Abbotsford and as far west as West Vancouver. All cities/communities in between: North & West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Port Moody,
Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, Langley, New Westminster, White Rock.

Sun June 19 @9:30am
Tue June 21 @9:30pm
Fri June 24 @5:30pm
Sat June 25 @10:30am
Sun June 26 @11:30am
Sun July 3 @11pm
Wed June 29 @4:30pm

Shaw TV South Vancouver Island

Tue June 21st @ 1pm
Wed June 22nd @ 10pm
Thu June 23rd @ 6am
Sat June 25th @ 3pm
Sun June 26th @ 7pm

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Melanoma Monday: What You Need to Know

Moles, spots and certain growths on the skin are usually harmless – but not always. That is why it is so important to examine the skin all over your body once a month and have a physician check you over once a year. Early detection of skin cancer can ensure effective treatment.

Using a bright light and mirrors, and working from top to bottom, examine:

  • head and face (use a blow-dryer to inspect your scalp)
  • elbows, arms, and underarms
  • neck, chest, and torso
  • genitals and breasts
  • back of neck, shoulders, upper arms, back, buttocks, and legs
  • feet (including soles, heels, and nails)

Look for the following “ABCDE” warning signs:

  • Asymmetry. Do the two halves not match if you imagine drawing a line through the mole?
    hands and nails

  • Borders. Are the edges uneven, scalloped or notched?
  • Colors. Is there a variety of shades (brown, red, white, blue or black)?
  • Diameter greater than 6mm. Is the mole the size of a pencil eraser or larger?
  • Evolution. Has there been a change in size, shape, color, or height? Has a new symptom developed (such as bleeding, itching or crusting)?
  • If you detect any of these warning signs, see a physician promptly. It is particularly important for you to select a physician who specializes in skin cancer and is trained to recognize a melanoma at its earliest stage.

5 Steps to Skin Cancer Self-Exam

  1. Using a mirror in a well lit room, check the front of your body -face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.
  2. Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.
  3. With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.
  4. Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.
  5. Finally, check your feet – the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.

You can also visit the Save Your Skin website for a list of FAQ’s.

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