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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