When the sun shines, make sure you’re safe and take steps to avoid skin cancer – the most common type of cancer in Canada
Cathy Barnard never dreamed that her childhood days of playing softball in Moody Park might one day endanger her life.
Barnard is the founder of the Save Your Skin Foundation, a non-profit organization she and her family founded in 2006, in an effort to ensure that no one with skin cancer has to travel on this trip alone.
“In 2003 I was diagnosed with the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma, and by 2005 it had spread to my liver, lungs, adrenal glands and kidneys, and I was given six months,” she said. “I would never have imagined that my days as a kid at our local lake or my days at the Diamond Ball game in Moody Park would turn out to be so mortal.”
According to Bernard, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers – one in six Canadians born in the 1990s is expected to develop skin cancer in their lifetime. She said there are more cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.
New Westminster has declared May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
“Melanoma is now the seventh most common cancer in Canada and the fourth most common in people ages 15 to 29,” she told City Council at their May 9 meeting. It is one of the few cancers with an increasing incidence among all Canadians. UV exposure through sun exposure, tanning beds, and sunlamps appears to be a major risk factor for skin cancer.”
Barnard said the skin is the largest organ in the human body — the one that people can see.
“Early detection and prevention are key to this type of cancer,” she said. Cancer cannot be eradicated, but it can be prevented. There are known risk factors so steps can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer.”
In an effort to raise awareness of skin cancer, Barnard offers the following tips on how people can protect themselves this summer:
*Always keep sunscreen with you so you can apply it whenever an unplanned outdoor activity arises.
* Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when you’re outside, even on those gray days.
* Wear protective clothing, long sleeves, hats and sunglasses.
* Look for changes in moles or new moles and consult your doctor immediately if there is anything suspicious.
*Try to limit sun exposure between 10am and 4pm
* Never use a tanning bed.
* Get a cancer screening by a doctor, including skin exams, every three years between ages 20 and 40 and annually for those 40 and older.
“If you see something suspicious, see your doctor immediately,” she emphasized.
Barnard thanked New Westminster for being a leader in helping spread the word about skin cancer and the need to be safe in the sun.
“Thank you for declaring May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month and for helping us spread the word about this type of cancer,” she told the council. New West was the first municipality declared, about four years ago, and this year we have 16 municipalities from all over Canada. So I thank you very much New West for being a leader.”
The Save Your Skin Foundation is committed to playing an active role in reducing skin cancer in Canada, and supporting Canadians living with skin cancer.
“We are committed to fighting non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma and melanoma through education, advocacy and awareness initiatives across Canada,” Barnard said. “Save your skin provides a community of support for oncology patients and caregivers in all phases of complete care from prevention and diagnosis to survival.”