Canadian Melanoma Conference

Dr. Smylie Receives the CMC Legacy Award

Dr. Michael Smylie was the recipient of the 2023 Canadian Melanoma Conference Legacy Award which was presented on February 26, 2023. Kathy Barnard, Save Your Skin Foundation’s founder and former patient of Dr. Smylie, had the honour of saying a few words about this incredible doctor, friend, athlete and father. She read several testimonials from former patients and caregivers, including the following one from her very own sister, Rosemary Westie:

“To Mike,

When you love someone who’s diagnosed with cancer, the world as you know it comes to an end. When my big sister and best friend was diagnosed I was petrified. I couldn’t imagine a life without her in it, none of our family could. But sadly, as a family, you can only do so much. You can provide love, support, and hope, but at the end of the day, you’re still petrified, because love, support and hope can’t cure this relentless disease.

In the early years through the various treatments and surgeries my sister had, we always feared we were on borrowed time. Although she stayed strong and dealt with everything this disease threw at her, there came the day we dreaded, where we were told there was nothing they could do. The panic and fear that set in at that stage was indescribable, I simply could not breathe. But then, when we were at our most desperate, we were granted a miracle.  And that miracle was you, Mike Smylie.

I know now, years later, that you are simply a lovely and humble man. You’re a wonderful dad and a friend to many. You are a tremendous athlete, and a connoisseur of excellent rum. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, your only flaw is that you are an Edmonton Oilers fan🤣.

But can I tell you, Mike, that when we first met under such dire circumstances, to me, my sister and our entire family, you were this divine, all-powerful, god like, super being, that had my sisters life in your hands. I wonder if you realized that you controlled the fate of our family. Our future, our happiness, whether she would live or die.
I think about that now, and what a huge burden that was to place on your shoulders, and to think that you didn’t just carry that burden for her, but for every single one of your patients.
I hope we weren’t asking too much of you Mike, but we needed you, desperately. You brought calm to our panic, you brought hope when we felt hopeless. You helped us understand what was happening, and what to expect throughout the treatment, which was invaluable when we were in the eye of the storm.  You always made us feel like she was your only patient and your biggest priority, and we know you did the same for everyone single one of your patients. 🙂

You, my dear, just have to accept that you will always be our super hero. Not the one wearing the cape, but the one wearing the wings, and of course the tight bike shorts. 🤣Thank you Mike, for saving my sisters life.

Kath’s sister Rose”

Dr. Michael Smylie has been a good friend of the Foundation since its creation. He sits on our Medical Advisory Committee and has been a frequent presenter on our webinars, including our most recent Post-CMC 2023 Update webinar. Dr. Michael Smylie is a medical oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute, and professor at the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Congratulations Dr. Smylie!

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Webinar – Post-CMC 2023 Update from Dr. Smylie

Date/Time:  March 1 – 5pm-6:30 pm PT / 8pm-9:30 pm ET

Presented by Dr. Michael Smylie, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, this webinar will review breaking news, key takeaways, clinical data and other updates presented at the Canadian Melanoma Conference (CMC) taking place in Banff, Alberta, from February 23-25, 2023. Dr. Smylie will present on key clinical trial data from 2022 in the management of melanoma, the latest strategies in melanoma as they pertain to medical oncology, pathology, radiation and surgery, and implementation approaches that maximize patient standard of care in melanoma. Dr. Michael Smylie is a medical oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute, and a professor at the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton

View Webinar Recording (English) Here


  • Kathy Barnard, President, SYSF, melanoma stage 4 survivor
  • Dr. Michael Smylie, Medical Oncologist, Cross Cancer Institute, Professor, Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton

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This conference brings together medical oncologists, surgeons, dermatologists, radiotherapists, pathologists, molecular biologists, immunologists, and other allied health professionals interested in the treatment of melanoma worldwide.

  1. Describe key clinical trial data from 2022 in the management of melanoma and understand the impact on Canadian practices.
  2. Understand the latest strategies in melanoma as they pertain to medical oncology, pathology, radiation, and surgery.
  3. Implement approaches that maximize patient standard of care in melanoma.
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Updates on our Support of Mental Wellness After Melanoma Diagnosis

In the summer of 2017, Save Your Skin Foundation conducted a patient survey seeking insight on the emotional and psychological impact of a melanoma diagnosis, in order to expand on our personal experiences and to learn how we may be able to help improve support systems for patients and survivors across Canada.

Since the release of the report from that survey (click here to read the report), we have developed a poster for display during our upcoming attendance at the 12th Annual Canadian Melanoma Conference (February 2018). This poster is titled:


We welcome the discussions that the information in this poster will inspire, and we will continue to bring voice to the challenges that are faced by those who are touched by melanoma skin cancer.

To read the poster we have created from the survey results, please click on the image below to view it in PDF format, in which you will be able to zoom in on the small text and graphs.

The survey was conducted in English using the SurveyMonkey online platform. It was also made available in French for Quebec residents. The English survey was open from August 21, 2017 to September 25, 2017; the French survey was open from August 28, 2017 to September 25, 2017. There were 28 participants in the English survey, and 19 in the French survey. French to English translations were largely performed by our in-house translator, Danika Garneau. The English and French results are combined for the purpose of this project. The poster will provide an overview of the survey results.  For any feedback or questions, please contact

To view the complete survey responses, please click here:
Save Your Skin Foundation Mental Health Survey 2017 – English
Sondage sur la Santé Mentale de la Fondation Sauve Ta Peau 2017 – en Francais

Stay tuned for updates on our work in mental wellness and self-care after cancer diagnosis. 


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February Conference Recap: Canadian Melanoma Conference and ASCO SITC

As February comes to a close, we’d like to look back on the conferences we attended this month: the Canadian Melanoma Conference and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Orlando, Florida!

Here is a sample of our social media from these conferences!

Canadian Melanoma Conference


ASCO Florida



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Key Takeaways from the Canadian Melanoma Conference

The Canadian Melanoma Conference (CMC) took place February 19-21, 2016 in Whistler, British Columbia and was a uniquely Canadian perspective on the landscape of Melanoma as it is happening in Canada now.  Attended by medical oncologists, dermatologists, pathologists, surgeons, radiologists, molecular biologists, industry partners and patient groups the Canadian Melanoma Conference is an opportunity to review and explore new therapies and to understand what’s coming next in the treatment of melanoma.

 Here are some key takeaways from that conference:

We understood at the Society for Melanoma Research Congress (SMR) last November in San Francisco that LDH levels play an important role in response rates in both the BRAF mutant positive population and the wildtype, and while no long term data on overall survival is available yet in the ipilimumab + nivolimumab combination therapy, early findings suggest that patients with both high and low LDH levels are having the same response to this combination therapy.  High LDH levels in patients, which correlate with aggressiveness of the tumour, demonstrated resistance to long-term response from targeted and immune therapies. Whereas patients with low disease burden are seeing great outcomes on therapy.  To view the SMR report go here.

There are distinct gender differences in melanoma, including different tumour types and different tumour sites (men are more likely to develop melanoma on the backs and trunks whereas women are more likely to develop melanoma on the legs.) An epidemiology study of melanoma by Dr. Thomas Salopek identified that globally, women are twice as likely to have melanoma between the ages of 15-50 (during menstrual years) which have researchers asking what role estrogen plays in the development of melanoma. There is also a spike in incidence in men after the age of 50, there is not a clear understanding of why this is happening.

Resident Dr. Paul Kuzel presented on the epidemiology of pediatric melanoma in Canada from 1992-2010.  Melanoma is the most common primary cutaneous malignancy diagnosed in patients under the age of 20.  Unlike adult melanoma, pediatric (those under the age of 18) melanoma rates remain stable.  Same distribution data between genders is seen in pediatric melanoma under the age of 15, after the age of 15 there are despairing differences in gender incidence of melanoma.

Melanoma patients are showing high rates of usage of mental health services in with use and rate of services depending on treatment administered. A study by Dr. Timothy Hanna showed a substantial burden on mental health services in advanced melanoma patients.

Sequencing was again a hot topic and data coming in the next year will provide treating clinicians more information on what to use and in what order when treating patients.

Standard of Care for the treatment of metastatic melanoma varies depending on what province you live in, with most patients having access to ipilimumab as a first line treatment, while doctors and patients in Québec are still on a regiment of dacarbazine (DTIC – chemotherapy). Dr. David Hogg expressed concern on the use of DTIC for the treatment of metastatic melanoma an felt that standard of care for the treatment of metastatic melanoma should be clinical trials (to find out more about clinical trials go here).

To see Kathy Barnard’s thoughts on why it’s important for patient groups to attend CMC go here 

To here my thoughts on CMC go here 

A full report on CMC will be available within the coming weeks.

Executive Director, SYSF

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