melanoma patient

Move for Melanoma 2021

Move for Melanoma is back!

This year, we’ll be joined by Vancouver Canucks’ JT Miller and his wife Natalie to raise funds for melanoma skin cancer. 

Move for Melanoma is an activity challenge that takes place across Canada. The goal of the event is to bring awareness to melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and ocular melanoma, while raising funds to support patients affected with these illnesses when they need it most.

This year, the event will take place on September 25-26th, 2021. As always, participants will be able to choose a physical challenge of their choice to complete on the weekend of the event. Participants will form teams and, together with their friends and family, try to reach their personal fundraising goals.

To facilitate the whole thing, again this year we will be using a custom website that allows people to register, donate, solicit donations, track progress and promote the event all in one place. The website also includes many resources for participants to help them get ready, and a Q&A page for more information.

If you’re interested in joining us, please visit Move for Melanoma 2021 and register now.


Save Your Skin Foundation is the only organization in Canada that supports skin cancer patients financially when they need it most. All the money raised through your donations goes directly to patients in the form of cab fares, treatment costs, flights, accommodation and other necessary but costly expenses incurred while receiving treatment.

Whether you’re a survivor who wants to bring hope to newly diagnosed patients, the family member or friend of a patient who wants to send a powerful message of solidarity, or a patient who wants to help change the face of cancer for ever, we invite you to take a stand against melanoma and to move with us this September!

Hand in hand, we fight melanoma together!


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SYSF Around the World

“SYSF works hard to bring resources from around the world to give Canadian skin cancer patients the latest information on treatment options and disease management.

This year our May campaigns have gone around the globe – from our long-standing participation in the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy with the Melanoma Research Foundation to the Melanoma International Patient Advocates Coalition with AIM at Melanoma to Ocumel Canada’s partnership with the US, the UK, Ireland and Australia, all the way home to the NCCN Guidelines created in the US but used by our own Health Care Providers in Canada.

We hope you enjoy these resources and welcome questions or feedback any time.”

Natalie Richardson, Managing Director, SYSF

We are very pleased to congratulate the National Comprehensive Cancer Network on the release of a new valuable patient/caregiver resource! Save Your Skin Foundation is proud to have provided endorsement for the Guide and have our Managing Director Natalie featured on the cover!

The new NCCN Guidelines for Patients® on Melanoma provides an extremely comprehensive and informational reference for patients covering melanoma basics, testing, staging, treatment and recurrence. 

Click HERE to view and download the Guidelines


In collaboration with the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy, hosted by the Melanoma Research Foundation in the United States, Save Your Skin Foundation participated in the making of this skin check awareness video for Melanoma Awareness Month 2021, featuring melanoma patients and caregivers from across the globe demonstrating that the time it takes to do a skin self-exam is the same as that of drinking a cup of coffee. Check it out:

Need help performing a self skin check? Click here for a video tutorial!



Save Your Skin Foundation is a proud member of MI-PAC, a coalition of organizations across the globe committed to reducing the global melanoma burden through education, advocacy, and collaboration. MIPAC, hosted by AIM at Melanoma in the United States, works to increase awareness and change public perceptions of melanoma, empower melanoma patients to take an active role in their care, and effect change in regulatory policies to optimize treatment and care.

Watch for our upcoming patient stories and continued awareness initiatives right here at home in Canada!  For more information or support please contact us at / 1.800.460.5832


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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:

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Melanoma Awareness Month – May 2019

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time of year to review a few easy steps we can all take to Be Sun Safe!

Spread Awareness

Join us in spreading the word about Melanoma Month by using one of our facebook banners as your cover photo! They are available for download HERE:

Sun Safety

Help us share the message about Sun Safety! Download our Sun Safety infographics by clicking on the images below and share with your friends and family!


Examine Your Skin

Learn how to perform a monthly skin self-exam!  When caught early, skin cancer is very treatable.

Patient Support

For those living with melanoma, support can be vital to the healing process. Save Your Skin Foundation provides a collection of resources as well as several ways for patients to connect with others or with private support. If you know someone touched by melanoma, please help them to connect with us.

We provide one-on-one support through Founder Kathy Barnard. We also provide support from other patients and survivors through our initiative “I’m Living Proof”

Click HERE for a summary of the ways you can connect with other patients, survivors, and caregivers touched by melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and ocular melanoma.

Press Release

If you’re interested in what Save Your Skin is working on for Melanoma Awareness Month, check out our official press release, which includes vital information about melanoma rates in Canada, prevention and detection, and how to support those battling skin cancer.

Public Service Announcement

Click here to watch our new video cut about sun safety and skin cancer awareness:



Stay tuned for more updates throughout May – Melanoma Awareness Month!

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National Post: Therapeutic Spotlight on Immuno-Oncology

On September 26, 2018, you may have seen a special insert in the paper version of the National Post across the country, featuring eight pages of informative articles about immunotherapy, an innovative treatment proving successful in several cancer indications.  This special content is the result of a collaboration between sponsoring funders, patient group representatives, and the folks at a group called Patient Diaries.  Over the years, Patient Diaries has coordinated several series such as this, raising awareness of various diseases and their effective treatments.                                                        This time they chose to highlight Immuno-Oncology.

Researchers and clinicians treating metastatic melanoma have been seeing success with these therapies for about ten years, but the growing use of and experimentation with them in recent years has been the topic of discussion at countless oncology conferences and treatment centres around the world.  In fact, just last month the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation: immunotherapy.

Save Your Skin Foundation openly discusses the need for access to these treatments by melanoma patients across Canada, and we jumped on the opportunity to be the primary patient group sponsor of this feature, sharing our collective patient experience with these therapies. On page six of the insert there was an article in which both Kathy Barnard and Natalie Richardson of Save Your Skin were interviewed.  We were also given half a page to display informative anecdotes about ourselves and raise awareness of our ongoing support of skin cancer patients.

In addition to the paper version of the Therapeutic Spotlight, a digital space has been placed on the National Post website.  SYSF awareness spots and our patient video from May 2018 can be seen throughout the Immuno-Oncology board – please feel free to take a look around.  There are additional informative articles about innovative treatments for lung cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer.

There is also a blog written by Natalie Richardson, melanoma survivor and Managing Director of SYSF, discussing the barriers to treatment access that many Canadian patients face.  Click here to read the blog: Cancer Patients Receive Unequal Treatment Depending on Stage or Postal Code

To see what else SYSF is talking about, click here to visit our MEDIA page!

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Join Us at our Giving Hope Gala & Auction!

Save Your Skin Foundation is hosting the 2018 Giving Hope Gala and Auction to bring awareness to Melanoma Month, raise funds to support the work of the foundation and the patients we help, and to unify collaborative efforts of involved stakeholders nationwide.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 5-10pm | Cathedral Centre, 65 Church St. Downtown Toronto
Enjoy a casual evening of buffet-style tapas and served hors d’oeuvres, while sipping on cocktails and nibbling decadent desserts – all while supporting an important cause. The fun will include music and dancing, press corner, informative placards, printed takeaways, a goodie bag, and the debut of our new 2018 patient fundraising video.

Click here to buy your tickets!

 If you’d like to support this event but not pay for the ticket, why not do some fund-raising for the cause? We have alternative ticket options to suit any style of support. Just email
Despite being 90% preventable, over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year. Of these, more than 5,000 are melanoma, the mostly deadly form of skin cancer. With incidences of this disease on the rise, awareness, education, and patient support are more crucial than ever.
This one-evening event in Toronto will provide up-to-the-minute information on melanoma statistics in Canada, a recap of sun safety and skin cancer prevention methods and initiatives with Kathy Barnard, the Save Your Skin team, and local stakeholders including physicians, patients, supporters and partners.

Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

No – everyone is welcome! Kid-friendly

Dress code?

Business casual – and bring your dancing shoes!

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email or call 519-270-0834 / 800-460-5832

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we’ll have our list handy to make it easier for you!

Can I update my registration information?

Yes, feel free to be in touch anytime.

Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn’t match the person who attends?


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Opening Our Eyes To Ocular Melanoma

Guest blog by our friend: Nigel Deacon, ocular melanoma survivor and patient advocate.

Ocular melanoma

Welcome to the Save Your Skin Foundation website. You are probably here because you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ocular melanoma. It is a big shock to get this news and you are doing well by looking for reliable, sensible, understandable information and guidance.

If you have not yet had treatment, your timing is excellent. Having good information beforehand will be very helpful to you as you discuss the disease, and your options, with your ocular oncologist.

You probably know already that this is a very rare cancer. Fewer than two hundred Canadians per year are diagnosed. It is really important to know as much as possible about how your cancer has presented. How large is the tumour in your eye? Where exactly is it? Both of these pieces of information can make a big difference to your plan. Ask for the reports that your ocular oncologist has, and keep them carefully in a file for future reference. The language is foreign at first but you will quickly learn to be proficient.

Perhaps a good thing to know, as you start the journey, is that half of the people treated for a primary tumour in the eye are then cancer free and that cancer will not spread any further. You will need continuing care of your eye by your ocular oncologist, to preserve as much vision as possible, for health, comfort, or aesthetic reasons, and to be vigilant in case the cancer returns.

(If it turns out that your cancer returns and spreads, please read the section below dedicated to providing information about that.)

As you discuss your disease with your ocular oncologist, please be fully aware that a biopsy of your tumour at the time of treatment holds the secrets to your future. You can find out whether or not your cancer is likely to spread. If you are in the happy 50%, imagine the relief. If you are in the unfortunate 50%, your care plan will be different and early detection gives you much better chances for prolonging your life. Either way you derive benefit.

Some people are frightened of the information. It seems like too much information to have and denial might seem like a better option. Please consider the benefit of having the information. If you don’t want to know, perhaps you could ask your oncologist not to share the information until you are ready, but at least you have it to use it for planning care. The biopsy cannot be performed after the treatment.

It is important to note though that the testing is not 100% accurate as yet and planning for surveillance needs to take that into account too.

For sure, consider joining other patients in a group that is in the same situation as you. There are several different groups to choose from and you should easily be able to find a group that you think is helpful to you. Your participation can vary over time. Meet your own needs for information.

Click here for a list of resources and patient groups to help you


Metastatic ocular melanoma

Oh dear. You are probably reading this because you have been given some very sad news. Well, we have to try and make some sense of it. Has your eye cancer (ocular melanoma) been detected in another part of your body? What do you know so far?

Here are some important questions so you can check if you have the answers:

  • Where exactly has the cancer been found?
  • Have you had a PET scan to see if cancer is in other places too?
  • Have you had an MRI (with gadolinium) of the liver to gather the best information?
  • Have you had a biopsy to confirm that it is indeed melanoma?
  • How many tumours are there?
  • What are the exact dimensions of the tumours?
  • Where exactly is each tumour located?
  • If it is in the liver (90% of metastases are found here first), what percentage of the liver is affected?
  • If it is in the liver, is there evidence of miliary disease (peppering, or spots, all over)?


If you know the answer to some or all of the questions, you are ready to read on. If the cancer is in the liver (most likely) it is important to focus on liver directed treatment first. Is your oncologist offering radioembolization, immunoembolization or chemoembolization? In rare cases, surgery may be an option. It is possible to have systemic treatment (see below) at the same time as liver directed treatment if your body is well enough. Focussing on the liver is most important though as liver disease is life threatening.

If the cancer is outside the liver, is your oncologist offering you immunotherapy? This is considered a systemic treatment.  There are several variations of this offered in Canada. You can read about which variation is most effective and why. If you are being offered chemotherapy, be very wary. For more than 30 years, patients have been offered dacarbazine as first line therapy and it is clearly proven to be ineffective for ocular melanoma. Treatment options have increased greatly.

If you are in a part of Canada where it is difficult to get treatment for this rare disease, will your oncologist refer you to a larger centre? You may have to fight for this.

Can your oncologist help you enrol in a clinical trial? There are several promising clinical trials recruiting but it is hard for Canadians to get into them. You can enrol if you try really hard. Timing is very important. Sometimes, the window of opportunity closes quickly. You also need to ask whether this particular treatment can bar you from others down the line.

Nigel at the Boston Finish



Reach out to others who know about the disease or are living with it. We are not alone.

Consider making other changes in your life that help all cancer patients. Sort through your priorities and focus on what is most important. Reflect on your diet and lifestyle and see if you want to make changes there. Diet will not cure cancer but it can certainly help you feel better and stronger.  Try to spend as much time in nature as you can.  Do what makes you happy.  Avoid pursuits that bring unhappiness. Know yourself and what is important to you.  Lean on good friends.  These are just sensible changes to consider.


More resources and support: Ocumel Canada, an initiative of Save Your Skin Foundation




NOTE – August 22, 2018: 

Save Your Skin Foundation is looking to improve and increase support of Canadians experiencing diagnosis of primary and/or metastatic ocular melanoma. To this end, in Feb-2018 we launched a survey to be shared across Canada, hoping to reach as many as possible.  The survey is now closed, and we appreciate all of the responses we received, and all of the sharing that our readers did to spread the word about the survey.  We have now completed the report and are working on next steps.  Please click here to read the survey report:  Save Your Skin Foundation Patient Survey: Understanding Ocular Melanoma in Canada


Thank you



The information in this blog is not intended to replace the medical advice of a doctor or healthcare provider.  The content in this blog is based on Nigel’s personal experience and extensive research in Canada and abroad.  If you have any questions about what you have read here please do not hesitate to ask your doctor, and/or you can contact us and we will help to connect you to further information. 

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Melanoma Patient Support Group Webinars

All patients, survivors, family members, and caregivers are invited to join these informal monthly webinars to connect with other patients and survivors across Canada.        Join one or all three:
Thurs, February 1, 2018
Thurs, March 1, 2018
Thurs, April 5, 2018

5pm PST | 8pm EST

We know the importance of having a good support network during difficult times. This is why we decided to organize a recurring support group by Webinar. Although melanoma patients and survivors are scattered all over Canada, these webinars will allow them to talk to others going through similar experiences from the comfort of their own home.  Founder Kathy Barnard will be in attendance, along with other members of the SYSF team. Whether you’re a patient or a caregiver, we hope that you will take part in this virtual discussion around melanoma, treatments, and hope.


Within 48 hours of registering for this webinar, you will receive an email from providing you with the link and dial-in details for this group call in gotoMeeting. You will be able to choose if you wish to share your webcam with all participants, or participate in call-in mode only.

Thank you, and hope to chat with you soon!

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Celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day with Patients Who Know: #CancerChanged

Diagnosed with advanced melanoma in August 2015, Lyall Woznesensky has learned that every minute of every day is precious, and he thanks his family and friends for their care and support through his cancer experience.

In time to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday, June 4, 2017, four Canadian patients living with advanced cancer are sharing their stories to help bring awareness to the hope for survivorship that is more accessible in this day and age, due to innovative new medical treatments.  Through documentary-style photo essays, a new campaign called #CancerChanged will bring to life these stories, to highlight hope and survivorship through the lens of Canadian award-winning photojournalists.


#CancerChanged gives an authentic glimpse into the lives of people living longer with advanced cancer to foster hope, understanding and peer-to-peer support.  This series of photographs, anecdotes, and video interviews will be shared in the coming days across social media channels, and through the networks of oncology patient organizations which are part of the collective called CONECTed.

“This is a time of change and a time of hope. Cancer patients have been dreaming about hope — and now hope is real.” said Kathy Barnard, Member of CONECTed steering committee and President and Founder of Save Your Skin Foundation, the patient advocacy group that has led the creation of CONECTed.  “New advances in cancer treatment have changed the outlook for many cancer patients. This extended phase is what we call survivorship and it poses new challenges such as how patients transition from a terminal diagnosis to a redefined ‘normal’ life embracing quality time and hope.”  See press release here

Lyall is open about his experience since learning that he has advanced skin cancer, “It’s all about trying to help others if I can in any small way,” he says, candidly, of his participation in #CancerChanged and bringing awareness to melanoma in general.  Recently Lyall was a guest panelist on a webinar hosted by Save Your Skin Foundation: Living Beyond Cancer.  Click here to watch the webinar.

To see more of Lyall’s impactful story, please see his photo essay below.  To see all of the #CancerChanged stories, please visit the #CancerChanged website here.  Click here for more information about CONECTEd, and to read about National Cancer Survivors day, click here.

Lyall was also interviewed for this article in the Winnipeg Sun: Former Bomber Finds Perspective in Cancer Fight

And here:  “The Woz” jumps for joy after tackling cancer, Saskatoon StarPheonix.

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Natalie’s Story

Meaford, ON

In the spring of 2014, at 37 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB nodular melanoma. Over the course of six to eight months, a lifelong mole on my hip had grown, changed in colour, and become itchy. Being a busy working mother of eleven year-old twins, I neglected to have this mole looked at until my daughter insisted I show our doctor while in her office for a sore throat.

Two days later an excisional biopsy was performed and the pathology revealed a melanoma with Breslow depth of 12.5 mm, Clark level 5, and a relatively high rate of three mitoses per millimeter squared. The peripheral margins were quite close at 0.2 mm, however the deep margin was 6 mm. One week after finding melanoma in the mole, I had a sentinal node biopsy, revealing a further diagnosis of metastases. I still struggle to understand these terms, but I do know they have altered my life forever.

Within a month I had a right hip wide local excision to 2 cm margins, and a superficial and deep right groin lymphadenectomy, going home to be on strict bedrest for eight weeks. I had four of thirteen lymph nodes positive, therefore I received further treatment post-surgery, in the form of immunotherapy. I participated in a clinical trial at Sunnybrook in Toronto, receiving eight doses of ipilimumab over sixty-eight weeks; four treatments three weeks apart, and then four more treatments, each being three months apart, with the last one in September 2015.

I still have CT scans every six months to maintain surveillance on my melanoma. Although I am considered at high risk for recurrence, to date I am still clear and I am grateful to report that my life has resumed with hope and ambition. I am happy to share my story as it may help someone else feel less desperation in such a scary situation. Living with melanoma is not easy, but we are not alone.

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