(WINDSOR, ON) – Windsor is one of many Canadian cities to locally host the Melanoma Network of Canada’s sixth annual 5km Strides for Melanoma walk. The walk will be held at Assumption Park’s Riverdale Trail starting at 9am on September 24. The walk is supported by skin and hair care products company Neutrogena.
Annually, the walk is designed to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for national patient support programs and prevention efforts for this potentially fatal form of skin cancer.
“There are thousands of Canadians being diagnosed with melanoma each year, education and prevention is key,” said Annette Cyr, the founder and chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada. “The first Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness was held in 2011. Each year, new locations are added and in 2017, there are now 20 walk sites across Canada as well as a virtual walk.”
A key purpose of increasing awareness is to increase Canadian’s knowledge of the importance of protecting against harmful UV rays from the sun and artificial sources, as well as checking their skin regularly and seeing a dermatologist for anything of concern.
“Melanoma,” said Cyr, “is a devastating disease that can be prevented by taking sun protection measures, including using sunscreen daily and wearing sun-safe clothing. It all starts with awareness.”
Melanoma is one of the top seven most frequent occurring cancers in Canada and is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in youth ages 15-29.
Canadians are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if they are subject to prolonged exposure to UV radiation, including outdoor sun and artificial UV radiation from tanning beds and sun lamps, severe blistering, sunburns before the age of 20, a family history of melanoma, more than 50 moles on their bodies, moles with unusual shape or colour, skin that tends to burn, fair or freckled skin, red or blonde hair and blue eyes, or a weakened immune system.
“Roughly 7,300 (4,000 males and 3,300 females) Canadians will be newly diagnosed with melanoma in 2017,” said the Toronto-based Dr Paul Cohen. The dermatologist and director of Toronto’s Rosedale Dermatology Centre spoke about a feeling of invincibility.
“Most people don’t believe they’re at risk,” Cohen said. “Melanoma can affect anyone regardless of sex, age, or race. Educating Canadians on the importance of preventive measures and early detection are crucial to reducing melanoma.”
Vancouver’s walk co-ordinator, Carly Smith, 33, was diagnosed with melanoma three times. Each time she noticed the melanoma through a self-exam and then went to her doctor for a biopsy to get a diagnosis. The melanoma was removed with a local incision and she did not require radiation.
“Melanoma is one of the cancers we can see early on,” said Smith. “I have red hair, blue eyes, used tanning beds, and did not use sunscreen when I was younger. Everything you should not do. I am now an advocate on the importance of prevention and early detection.”
She stresses that regular body checks are a must. It is particularly important to, “… notice if there are any changes to your moles. Had I not been diligent when I noticed the melanoma on my back and on my hip and gone to the doctor, the diagnosis could have been very different.”
Melanoma can be a deadly form of cancer but, if diagnosed early, it is often treatable. It’s one of few cancers that is preventable and is visible to the naked eye.
The Melanoma Network of Canada provides support services, information, and programs for individuals whose lives have been changed by melanoma. MNC provides the leading national voice for melanoma patients in Canada for early detection and improved treatment access and works diligently to prevent more Canadians from developing melanoma through public awareness and youth and adult education on sun safety.