From Sun Worshipper To Melanoma Survivor
Education and Advocacy There are over 80,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Canada each year — more than prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancers combined.
A few years ago, I didn’t think twice about enjoying the sun without protecting my skin — but that changed when I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. The next few months were a challenging roller coaster of medical appointments, biopsies, surgeries, drug injections, and months of painful recovery. And it all started with a mole on my hip that had grown, changed in colour, and become itchy.
It’s not “just” skin cancer
There’s a myth about skin cancer that it’s not that serious, but skin cancer can be deadly. There are over 80,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Canada each year — more than prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancers combined.
Over 7,200 of those are melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Every year, more than 1,200 Canadians die from melanoma. Melanoma is also the second most common cancer for women aged 20–29, the highest demographic of sun bed users.
You can protect yourself
We know that 90% of melanomas are caused by sun exposure. So, please, take precautions:
- Cover up with a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves.
- Use a sunscreen with 30+ SPF and reapply every two hours.
- Seek shade during the hottest time of day, 11am–3pm.
- Check your skin monthly to keep an eye on anything new or changing. If in doubt, check it out with a physician.
Natalie Richardson is Executive Director of the Save Your Skin Foundation