skin cancer

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. This is serious!


I still can’t believe how often I hear “it’s just skin cancer”. Although awareness of skin cancer has increased over the last five years, skin cancer and melanoma rates in Canada continue to rise. I continue to read posts on social media that say things like “in the sun too long today #skincancerhereicome”. In fact we just launched a campaign around this, which you can watch here:

As a stage 4 melanoma survivor, I find these posts shocking and sad. Skin cancer is a serious disease and is the most common type of cancer. It is also one of the most preventable. Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, more than 5,000 of which are melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In 2016 it is estimated that 1,050 people will die from melanoma.

As an outdoor athlete (I was a professional baseball player for many years), I was outside all the time – and I wasn’t aware of the risks of harmful UV rays. And I learnt my lesson the hard way. In 2003 I was diagnosed with melanoma and in 2005 I was given only six months to live. Fortunately, I gained access to a new treatment through a clinical trial that would end up saving my life. So this is my call out to other outdoor athletes, outdoor workers, outdoor enthusiasts – anyone enjoying the outdoors. Have fun in the sun – but make sure you’re the sun safely.

Prevention plays an essential role. Skin cancer is caused by overexposure of the skin to UV radiation. The most common sources of UV radiation on the skin are the sun and artificial tanning beds. Though skin cancer is preventable and often treatable if caught early, it remains the most common form of cancer in Canada. Save Your Skin Foundation will be posting daily sun safety tips throughout the month on its social media pages.

Early detection increases survival. Moles, spots and certain growths on the skin are usually harmless, but not always. That is why it is important to examine the skin all over your body once a month, and have a physician check your skin once a year.

Look for the following “ABCDE” warning signs:
Asymmetry: Do the two halves not match if you imagine drawing a line through the mole?
Borders: Are the edges uneven, scalloped or notched?
Colours: 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, colour, 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.

Lets start a new conversation around sun safety and prevention. It’s not just skin cancer. #NotJustSkinCancer

– Kathy Barnard, Stage IV Melanoma Survivor

Save Your Skin Foundation-Web Optimized-17

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Proud to Announce that SYSF Founder Kathy Barnard Wins BC Achievement Award!


Save Your Skin Foundation-Web Optimized-17

Premier Christy Clark and Keith Mitchell, chair of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, today named this year’s recipients of the B.C. Community Achievement Awards. The Save Your Skin Foundation is thrilled to announce that the Foundation’s President and Founder, Kathleen Barnard, is one of this year’s award recipients.

In 2003, Kathleen Barnard was diagnosed with malignant Melanoma, the most serious of all skin cancers. In 2005, she was told that the cancer had propagated throughout her body with significantly sized tumors already accumulated in her vital organs. Tumors were found in her left lung, kidney, liver, and adrenal gland. Having received the only available treatment option in B.C., her prognosis was not good and she was given only six months to live. Left with little hope, Barnard’s family looked everywhere for help and located an oncologist researching a trial treatment. Barnard was able to receive the treatment through a clinical trial that would ultimately save her life.

2016 marks Barnard’s 10-year anniversary of being cancer free. It also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Save Your Skin Foundation. In 2006, Kathleen Barnard transformed her cancer diagnosis into a call for action and she is dedicated to changing skin cancer related policy through her Save Your Skin Foundation. Her leadership in addressing and raising awareness around skin cancer issues has made British Columbia a better and more sun safe community.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It is also one of the most preventable. Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, more than 5,000 of which are melanomas, the mostly deadly form of skin cancer.

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unBeach Party!

Missed the 2016 unBeach Party? Catch up through the photos on our Facebook page here:



And make sure you get your tickets for the 2018 Gala!


Don’t miss the party of the year at the Vancouver Aquarium on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. #unBeach

Save Your Skin Foundation’s unBeach Party will raise funds for skin disease and skin cancers on Wednesday, May 18th at the Vancouver Aquarium. This first annual party for 300 guests takes place during Melanoma Awareness Month and will include themed cocktails and canapés, an exclusive silent auction, beach volleyball, entertainment, a surprise guest host – and all to the beat of our unBeach playlist (which will be available for download next month!).

The 2016 unBeach Party’s goal is to raise enough funds to roll out a critical awareness campaign on sun safety to schools throughout Canada and to support other important 2016 patient support initiatives. Funds raised at the 2016 unBeach Party will ensure better awareness, prevention and detection of skin disease and skin cancers within elementary schools across Canada.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It is also one of the most preventable. Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, more than 5,000 of which are melanoma, the mostly deadly form of skin cancer. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers COMBINED!

Skin cancer is caused by overexposure of the skin to UV radiation. The most common sources of UV radiation on the skin are the sun and artificial tanning beds. Though skin cancer is preventable and most often treatable, it remains the most common form of cancer.

For 2016 unBeach Party sponsorship inquiries, tickets or questions, please contact Karran at or call 1-800-460-5832.

Space is limited, get your tickets today!
Eventbrite - The unBeach Party


Don’t miss the party of the year! #unBeach

Date: May 18, 2016
Location: Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way
How to Get There: The Vancouver Aquarium is located in beautiful Stanley Park. Directions and parking details can be found here
Attire: Business casual beach attire

Individual tickets are $100 and a group of 10 tickets is $1,000. Partial tax receipt issued after the event. To purchase tickets, please contact Karran Finlay at or call 800-460-5832 or purchase online here.

Event Details

6:30 pm Party Starts!
Silent Auction, Beach Volleyball, unBeach Playlist Beats, Sunscreen Sampling and more!
7:30 pm Special Guest Welcome
9:30 pm Raffle Draw

Silent Auction

Silent auction items to be listed soon!


Raffle prizes to be announced soon!


The Save Your Skin Foundation invites you to partner with us as a sponsor of The unBeach Party. We offer monetary sponsorship involvement at a variety of levels. If you would like to discuss a sponsorship opportunity, please contact:

Karran Finlay
Save Your Skin Foundation
Tel: 778-988-8194

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Sunshine, Vacations and UV Radiation. Know the Facts.


When we think of sunshine and suntans, we usually think first of vacations. And while most of us, while on vacation, remember to apply sunscreen, we don’t always remember to do this at home. Rain, snow or shine, it’s always important to be sun safe. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, even though it is also one of the most preventable.

One in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a skin cancer, 80-90% of which are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The most common sources of UV radiation on the skin are the sun and artificial tanning beds. Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, more than 5,000 of which are melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Canadians born in the 1990s have two to three times higher lifetime risk of getting skin cancer (1 in 6) than those born in the late 1960s (1 in 20)[1]. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined!

Skin cancer is caused by overexposure of the skin to UV radiation, with the most common sources of UV radiation on the skin being the sun and artificial tanning beds.

In 2003 Kathleen Barnard, Founder and President of Save Your Skin Foundation Canada, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Growing up as an outdoor athlete and enthusiast, she spent countless hours outdoors in the sun. She was unaware of the hazards of the sun and how to protect herself from harmful UV rays. Kathy is now one of few advanced melanoma survivors in Canada, and has made it her mission, through the work of her Foundation, to make others aware of the dangers of the sun and tanning beds, and to educate and promote better awareness of sun safety.

The Save Your Skin Foundation is a national registered not-for profit organization dedicated to the areas of skin cancer and skin disease with a focus on education and awareness, supporting research and ensuring equal and timely access to treatment for all Canadians.

No tan is a safe tan. Enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine, but do it safely. More information can be found on the Save Your Skin Foundation website.

Quick Links:

Sun Safety for Children

Be Sun Smart Infographic

The Facts – Skin Cancer & Melanoma

[1] Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation

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A Medical Student’s Prospective on the Save Your Skin Foundation

Liz Willsey, MD Candidate UBC Class of 2018, chose the Save Your Skin Foundation for an assignment and we are happy to share an extract of her article with you.

“My interest in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer led me to choose the Save Your Skin Foundation for this assignment.  I have a passion for improving skin cancer detection and treatment, and my passion has continued to grow after I spent my summer studying the genotypic and phenotypic correlations of melanoma in Queensland, Australia.  I was particularly interested in learning more about the Save Your Skin Foundation, as it is based locally here in Vancouver, and one of the few organizations in Canada offering support for skin cancer patients.  While working on this assignment, I realized that despite how common skin cancer is in Canada, there is in contrast, strikingly low general public awareness and few resources available for patients battling this disease.  When I was talking with Karran Finlay regarding her involvement in the agency, she emphasized that this was an area that sustained and ongoing efforts could really could make a difference; it is an area where so much is not known, yet early detection and intervention could greatly assist in saving lives. This is something that hit close to my heart and something I strongly believe in.  As a child, I have grown up with a love of the ocean and spending time outside surfing, and this outside exposure drew me early on to the field of skin cancer.  I overheard so many stories of people with worse prognoses simply due to failure to recognize and treat the skin cancer early.  This was further reinforced while I was working on skin cancer research this summer; the importance of diagnosing skin cancer early, treatment and removal, before the malignant stages.  I realized how much a difference this could make in a person’s life.  This motivates me to want to work in this field, and it also motivated members of the organization to want to do this type of work.

I believe it is extremely important for medical students, like me, to be engaged with community organizations like the Save Your Skin Foundation during our training.  It allows them to understand what resources are available to patients and how to appropriately direct patients to the right resources.  Furthermore, it emphasized in me, as a future doctor, the importance to work and partner with community organizations to advocate for patient care.  The Save Your Skin Foundation relies on doctors to help act as advocates for improving funding for treatment at the government level.  This was an invaluable part of my training to reinforce what I need to do at the systemic level once I am a doctor to improve patient care.”

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Professor Dr. Reinhard Dummer Shares Opinion on Successful Takeaways from the Society of Melanoma Research (SMR) 2015 Congress in San Francisco

Save Your Skin Foundation was in San Francisco last week for the Society of Melanoma Research’s (SMR) 2015 Congress. During the Congress, Save Your Skin Foundation met with leading oncologists from across the globe to discuss data coming out of SMR 2015 and what it means for patient care and treatment today.

During our discussions, Professor Dr. Reinhard Dummer shared his thoughts on the significant shift of focus on melanoma research. He explains that Melanoma has attracted the great brains of science today. We have achieved some improvements to patient care and this is in large part due to research results.

Melanoma research matters and the energy going into the first class work being done by researches will result in a better clinical outcome.

Professor Reinhard Dummer is Professor of the University of Zurich and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Dermatology in the University Hospital of Zürich, Switzerland and is a key thought leader in worldwide cutaneous oncology. Currently he is heading of the Skin Cancer Unit and the Clinical Trial Unit of the Department of Dermatology.

He is Board Certified in allergology, clinical immunology, dermatology and dermatopathology.

Professor Dummer’s principal research interests are molecular biology, immunology and immunotherapy of cutaneous malignancies, including cutaneous lymphomas and melanomas. He has published more than 550 papers with a cumulative impact factor of more than 4700. He has been President of the Melanoma Project Group of the Swiss Institute for Applied Cancer Research since 1999, is board member of the Society for Melanoma Research and past President of the International Society for Cutaneous Lymphomas. He is a founding and board member of the European Association of Dermato-Oncology (EADO), and past President of the European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR).

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‘Real-World’ Melanoma Treatment Patterns Similar to Trials – New Study


In recent years we have seen a revolution in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, with the introduction of both immunotherapy and targeted agents, but to date, only a limited number of studies have examined how these drugs are used in clinical practice.

The SYSF team was recently in San Francisco for the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) 2015 Congress and learned that a new study has looked at the current “real-world treatment patterns of therapies” in patients with metastatic melanoma in the United States. The data was presented during the poster session at the Society for Melanoma Research 2015 Congress in San Francisco.

More information on the study can be found on

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Immunotherapy Fights Deadly Cancer- Meloney and Kathy Share Their Stories




Immunotherapy is the latest advance in the way cancer is treated, using the body’s own immune system to fight otherwise deadly disease. Meloney Edghill knows it can work.


Meloney also knows what the mother of a young child thinks about when told she has terminal cancer. She chokes back tears remembering: “I was worried it would kill me before my 4-year-old son would have any memories of me. I didn’t want him growing up and not remembering me at all.”

That was in April 2006. The fact that Meloney is still here to tell her story – and watch her son grow to a teenager – is thanks to the development of the newest form of cancer treatment, immunotherapy. Unlike the traditional approaches to cancer treatment – surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapy – immunotherapies are drugs that release the natural brakes on the body’s own immune system so it can fight and kill the cancer cells.

In April 2006, the young mother was living in Edmonton and had a lump growing on the front of her shoulder. When she went to the doctor to check it out, it was too late.  She was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.  It accounts for just 8 per cent of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for 70 per cent of deaths from the disease.

When she was first told she had melanoma, Meloney didn’t realize the implications. “I initially thought they would just cut it out and everything would sort of be OK after that,” she recalls. “We found out very fast that it was not that simple and in fact there were very few options.  We were devastated.”

At the time, the average life expectancy for someone with Meloney’s diagnosis was about six to nine months. That October, she enrolled in a trial of a new melanoma immunotherapy that was in an early study.

In January 2007, when tested to see how she had responded, Meloney was taken by surprise. “All of my cancer was just about gone after that,” she says. “It was unbelievable to my doctors and nurses that something had worked that well and that quickly.” According to her doctor, today Meloney is cancer free and her son, who is a now a teenager, has grown up with his mother at his side.

Meloney’s experience with the treatment is not shared by all melanoma patients, but the immunotherapy she took has shown good results in studies. It has been approved for use in Canada and other countries and is the first-ever treatment shown in clinical studies to improve survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.  Ongoing research continues to give new hope to those diagnosed with the disease.

Today there are even newer immunotherapies available.  The latest ones work in different ways to stimulate the immune system, shutting off a different one of the “checkpoint inhibitors” which act as natural brakes on the immune system and prevent it acting against cancer cells. These newer immunotherapies are also being studied with promising results in combination with the older drugs in melanoma and as potential treatments for a wide variety of other cancers and are showing promising results.

“Immunotherapy has completely transformed the way advanced melanoma is treated.  Just a few years ago patients who were diagnosed were desperate and many were told to ‘get their affairs in order’. In just a short period this cancer went from being defined as a deadly disease to a cancer that patients may be able to survive,” says Kathy Barnard, Founder and President of the Save Your Skin Foundation, a melanoma patient support organization that also aims to educate the public on the importance of protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, a major risk factor for skin cancer.

“What’s even more exciting is that there is ongoing research with immunotherapy which means more treatments are available to patients to give them options.  Can you imagine?  Advanced melanoma patients have treatment options to survive?  I never dreamed this would happen in my lifetime. I’m here today witnessing history being made.  In fact, I’m living proof of it,” Kathy adds. She herself is a melanoma survivor, another beneficiary of the same treatment that helped Meloney.  Kathy has since devoted herself to helping others and educating about the disease.

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Free Patient Session with Dr. Rahul Shukla – October 1, 2015 in Oakville, Ontario

Join us on October 1st for a FREE Patient Session with Dr. Rahul Shukla, a board certified dermatologist both in Canada and in the United States. Dr Shukla is a Dermatologist at Bertucci Medispa and at the Dermatology Centre in Hamilton.


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Join us on our annual Save Your Skin Walk to Remember!

If you live in Kelowna and have been affected by melanoma, you should check out the sixth annual Save Your Skin Walk to Remember on September 19th. The walk was inspired by late Kelowna resident Klara Chrumova, and will be led by Klara’s mother, Lida. When asked about the inspiration for the Walk to Remember, Lida told me that it was Klara’s idea to hold an annual walk to promote local dialogue about sun safety and skin cancer prevention. Klara, who was one of the first patients to reach out to the Save Your Skin Foundation, was initially diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. “At the time she was diagnosed, we had no idea,” Lida told me, “We didn’t know Kathy  [Barnard, Founder of Save Your Skin], we didn’t know where to go or who to talk to”. The Walk to Remember aims to minimize this sense of isolation by bringing together anyone who has been affected by melanoma to share information and resources. The two hour round trip takes you to the top of Knox Mountain Park for stunning views of Kelowna, snacks, and conversation in honour of those who have fought melanoma. This location was chosen because it was Klara’s favourite park, and Lida thinks that Klara “would be happy” to see the walk still happening, and at this location.

While the walk can be somewhat challenging, there is also the option to drive up a paved road most of the way to the viewpoint. Therefore, there is no excuse to not join the Walk to Remember! 

Written by Taylor.

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