my last 20 instagram posts… click here for instagram
I loved to tan.. summer, winter, while skiing or in tanning booths, I felt that I looked better with tanned skin.. I was naive and didn’t realize what I was doing would potentially end my life.. my whole world came crashing down around me when I was diagnosed with stage 3b melanoma.. 2 years later, stage 4 metastatic melanoma and getting my affairs in order… thanks to princess margaret hospital in toronto and a clinical trial with glaxosmithklein out of the UK, I was able to test a targeted therapy drug, tafinlar (now made by my friends at novartis) that saved my life.. here are some of the things I learned while getting my education on taking care of my skin
I call this picture 'the evolution of me' and how I had to learn that I actually didn't NEED to be tanned to live my life.. bottom right is my husband and I on or about our honeymoon in 1986.. how ridiculous we looked.. we were darker than some of the maui locals! top left is current and I'd have to say, I look better with my own skin color
this picture shows how my hair (among other things) suffered while I had cancer and was taking a targeted therapy treatment.. I specifically use this picture to illustrate that skin cancer IS a big deal, not just something you cut out and forget about.. my hair and my appearance on the outside is just a whiff of what went on in the inside.. bottom right is 2007 when I was first diagnosed.. top left is a current picture
I was offered a chance to reach out to other melanoma patients through a joint campaign with save your skin foundation and norvartis canada in my favourite medium, photographs.. this campaign aims to raise awareness about different forms of the life-threatening skin cancer and its impact on patients and their families.. I am so moved by visual images I couldn't think of a better way to get a message across.. there were 6 of us patients, in all parts of canada, asked to take a camera and take pictures of what having melanoma meant to us.. the images are powerful.. have a look through the e-book and see if you agree (click here)
much thanks to canadian living magazine and ashani jodha for getting it right! your article about "my approach to sun safety before getting diagnosed, not losing hope and what I've learned" will help people.. I was quoted correctly and and very pleased with the article.. you can read it here:
many thanks to rogers tv york region for having me on again to talk about melanoma.. we always have a good time, today was no exception AND I got to hang out with frankie flowers of citynews / cityline.. even snuck a snap of his segment while I was waiting my turn on the couch
my husband and I were asked by novartis canada to be part of their campaign to help others affected by melanoma.. we and another canadian patient, terry, flew to montreal and talked to the good people at novartis about how it feels to live with cancer.. we are proud of our new website and know that it will be a great resource going forward (click here) or visit melanomajustgotpersonal.ca
a little behind the scenes...
It was my pleasure to be a small part of a new campaign called #NotJustSkinCancer launched by the Melanoma Network of Canada in partnership with Save Your Skin Foundation.. a campaign focusing on online complacency surrounding melanoma and skin cancer.. primarily how our young people today are just not getting the message it's serious out there.. we worked with a very talented artist who handmade paper that showed some hashtags popular on social media, hashtags that show that we aren't finished educating about melanoma and skin cancers.. these papers only showed the messages when exposed to light, similar I thought to sun spots and moles that appear on the skin after years of exposure... Canada AM invited Annette Cyr and myself on their morning show to discuss hashtags such as #skincancerhereicome #Ineedatan #sorrynotsorry or my favourite #sunburnart.. here are some others
we kicked off our brand new video for YouTube by the same name #NotJustSkinCancer where we talk about skin cancers and melanoma, how it feels to be diagnosed and having this cancer joked about by people who are obviously unaware of it's perils
I also touched on the tanning industry and how the tan I got in 1982 is still trying to kill me
the World Health Organization and common sense knows indoor tanning is carcinogenic but no one told me back in the day.. so I've decided to speak up..
It wasn't uncommon for my husband paul and I to gauge how successful our holidays were by how tan we got.. look how foolish we look.. we're darker than the hawaiian lady! needless to say our holidays (some still in tropical climates) look different, a lot different
I had a blast chatting with sarah parrot of toronto's 680News about our #NotJustSkinCancer campaign..
Rogers Daytime TV and Jacqueline were great, they not only talked with me for 3 segments but ran the whole #NotJustSkinCancer video from YouTube
Rogers Daytime TV York Region had me on to chat about sun safety, our campaign and indoor tanning.. I took along a picture of my first surgery, to bring the point home.. they wanted to put it up while we were talking, I think it speaks for itself.. here it is below.. 30+ metal staples for 1 mole removed
I know this is a hard image to look at, especially because I wasn't sure how to make it smaller (sorry) but I included this because it's important.. this picture is of my very first surgery to remove the mole that grew into stage 3 melanoma.. this incision is for ONE mole.. one.. right there in the middle of the scar.. when I took off the bandage at home I was shocked.. the other thing that's obvious from this image is that I'm covered in moles.. every one a potential killer really.. the important thing to know about tanning beds is that I didn't have ANY of these moles before I started indoor tanning.. that's what extreme UV exposure does, brings these kinds of things to the surface of the skin
as part of Melanoma Network's annual golf tournament, complete with unreal auction items, we had the pleasure of Danielle from CityNews Sports come and MC for us as well as my son joining me this time.. he was bummed however, that he didn't win Air Canada tickets for anywhere they fly.. sorry Nate, no concert in Hamburg this year!
my friend dave babych, an NHL vet and all-around good guy helped out in our beach campaign along with close friends and family (everyone was put to work!) to bring awareness of overexposure to the sun's UV rays.. it was a perfect day on the beach where I myself got way too much sun growing up
back in march 2013 Melanoma Network of Canada was working on getting legislation passed that would ban minors from access to indoor tanning, which has since passed.. my oncologist asked me to come to Princess Margaret Hospital for the Health Minister's press conference and talk about indoor tanning which was covered by CTV and again by CityNews here in Toronto
the Health Minster Deb Matthews is announcing the new legislation and fines levied against tanning salons should they decide to allow minors in
CityNews asked me to come to the studio that day to talk more about tanning, I was pleased to get the opportunity to speak out against indoor tanning and the people lobbying against common sense
the UHN or University Health Network in Toronto (Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto General Hospital) kicked off a campaign highlighting patients, nurses, doctors and caregivers and asked if I would allow them to tell my melanoma story, I was happy to help of course.. click here to read it.. this picture was taken by one of my bff's janis on a trip to florida.. I was very proud I didn't come back with any color on my face, this was certainly a new feeling for me
after a couple of attempts to pass new legislation in Ontario to ban indoor tanning to minors, the bill stalls, despite efforts of all involved.. so when the Toronto Star asked to do a story about indoor tanning I jumped at it.. click here to read it.. this picture was taken not in hawaii as the article states but in mexico at christmas, after I'd had my first surgery on my shoulder and was awaiting the 'big' surgery to remove the grapefruit sized tumour that had migrated to the adrenal gland on my kidney