We are proud to partner with Cabana Life to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection and UPF clothing throughout Melanoma Awareness Month!
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer affecting people of all ages. While the incidence of most cancers is decreasing, it is increasing for melanoma. This can change! Melanoma is both preventable and treatable when detected early.
Protecting your skin
Since the majority of melanoma cases are caused by exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, protecting your skin from UV light is the most effective way to reduce your risk. Here’s how:
Reduce your time outdoors between 11am and 3pm or when the UV Index is 3 or more
Cover up with long clothing, UPF clothing and hats
Do not use indoor tanning equipment
If you want extra protection when you cover up, we recommend wearing UPF clothing. What is UPF clothing? UPF clothing is clothing that has sun protection built into the fabric. UPF stands for ‘ultraviolet protection factor’. UPF is the numerical rating given to clothing to show how effectively it blocks UV radiation. The highest UPF rating clothing can receive is 50+. Clothing with a UPF 50+ rating offers excellent sun protection blocking 97.5% of UV radiation.
Partnering with Cabana Life
We are thrilled to join forces with Cabana Life to raise awareness and funds for melanoma prevention. We need your help!
For every share of our award-winning and life-saving video Dear 16 Year Old Me on Facebook or Instagram from May 6-12 that @cabanalife is tagged in, Cabana Life will donate $5 to the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. Please share and tag to help us save lives from melanoma!
Are you looking for stylish sun protective clothing? Cabana Life is offering a 20% discount for David Cornfield Melanoma Fund supporters. Use code ‘DCMF19’ at checkout on www.cabanalife.com.
The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund is delighted to welcome Adam Perzow and Michelle Abbott as co-chairs of Magic for Melanoma sponsored by Deloitte.
When we were looking for melanoma survivors to participate in a melanoma prevention and awareness video in 2010, Adam enthusiastically agreed to help us out. Along with other melanoma survivors and family members, Adam generously shared his story in our 2011 video Dear 16 Year Old Me. Adam’s honesty, charm and unique voice played a central role in the video.
We were surprised and thrilled by the reception and impact of Dear 16 Year Old Me. With over 10 million views, multiple awards and translations, celebrity and organizational shares and life-saving credits, Dear 16 Year Me far surpassed our expectations. Dear 16 Year Old Me was also a game-changer for DCMF kick-starting a new era of action on melanoma awareness, prevention and research.
Adam and Michelle have been loyal supporters of DCMF since our formation in 2007. In addition to participating in Dear 16 Year Old Me, Adam has acted as our sponsorship volunteer since 2014.
Outside of DCMF, Adam is a prominent lawyer at BLG and Michelle is a caring and compassionate teacher. They are also busy parents of two teenage boys.
This year, Adam and Michelle are stepping up to co-chair our fundraising event Magic For Melanoma sponsored by Deloitte. “The DCMF and melanoma awareness and prevention is a cause near and dear to our hearts and we are thrilled to take on this role,” Adam and Michelle.
We thank Adam and Michelle for their leadership and look forward to making melanoma disappear on May 2nd, 2019.
Join us – Magic for Melanoma tickets are now on sale HERE.
By Meaghan Greene, Grade 4 Teacher, Davidson Elementary
Ordinary tasks can lead to extraordinary things, if given the room to grow. The experience of my Grade 4 class this past year shows how something truly exciting can come out of the most unexpected circumstances.
One day last year, I had carefully planned for my students to read from the Canadian Reader titled “Sunscreen by the Squirt“. The goal of the assignment was for my students to practice such skills as tricky word work, decoding, comprehension and making connections. However, my students quickly began to question why the opportunity for free sunscreen was not available to their community. As a result of this inquiry, our reading assignment quickly turned into a persuasive writing exercise to convince our town council that we needed sunscreen dispensers at our local swimming pool. In the view of my students, they should have the same access to protection from skin cancer in Davidson as the community of Toronto, which they had read about in their assignment.
Despite the persuasive writing of our class, the local town council did not agree. The request was denied.
About a month later, a local news reporter was at our classroom door, asking how our class felt about the town council denying our request. The class was surprised by the interest from the reporter, and quickly that excitement shifted to wondering what steps the class could take to make their plans work. We soon learned that town council had denied the request, based upon the understanding that sunscreen contains active medicinal ingredients and that the free sampling of sunscreen is strictly regulated. With a lot of questions and encouragement from the newspaper reporter, our class decided to start researching.
Based upon our research, our class learned about the ingredients in sunscreen, the importance of wearing sunscreen to prevent melanoma, and that groups were already working on these initiatives. Through our work, our class learned about Danielle Paterson of the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, who helped us enormously withher experience from the Toronto project. We also obtained the assistance of Nicole Braun from Sun Smart Saskatchewan, who supported us with a directed letter to town council on our behalf. Next steps included government approval, which involved a letter to our local MLA and an email to Health Canada. Before long, we had obtained the necessary government approval for the project.
Full of information, government approvals, and support, my students and I attended our local town council as a delegation. My students spoke about the reasons why it was important to provide public access to sunscreen. The students described situations where sunscreen at the pool would be important, such as where children were at the pool without parents, when families forgot their own sunscreen, and where people did not understand the importance of sunscreen. My students’ dedication was hard to deny and our town council decided that this proposal made good sense. The proposal for free sunscreen at the swimming pool was approved. Just a couple of months after our introduction to the text, Davidson had become the first community in Western Canada to have a free sunscreen dispenser and the third community nationally!
My students are motivated by their success, and are now working on approaching our school division for access to free sunscreen on the playground. Our initial Grade 4 group is now named the Davidson Kids Action Club. I have no doubt that the Davidson Kids Action Club will continue to be unpredictable in our community in all the best ways.
The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund is proud to celebrate Anthony Mak, MD, PhD, as the recipient of the 2018 David Cornfield Melanoma Fund Award.
The DCMF Award was jointly established by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and the University of Toronto to support and advance melanoma research. The DCMF Award is available to residents and fellows in the Department of Medicine and students at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who have demonstrated special interest and research achievements in the field of melanoma.
Anthony’s doctoral studies focused on the functional characterization of the C133 protein, a marker of cancer stem cells. His interest in melanoma began when he learned that CD133 expressing melanoma stem cells behave very differently than stem cells from other cancer types. He, and others, proposed a new model that presented CD133 as an important protein in maintaining melanoma stem cells near tumour blood vessels.
Now, as a dermatology resident, Anthony and his collaborators are using the latest high-throughput screening technology to comprehensively identify essential genes in melanoma. The outcome of this project will mark a significant advancement in the field, as it will provide melanoma researchers with a validated database of candidate therapeutic targets to begin developing new melanoma treatments.
By Presley Caldwell, Miss America’s Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen
In 2015, after having a suspicious mole checked, my grandmother received her first melanoma diagnosis. She underwent surgery to remove all cancerous tissue and was considered cancer free; however, 2 years later, while visiting the emergency room for severe back pain, the doctors discovered she had numerous nodules on both lungs. She was diagnosed with stage 4 invasive melanoma skin cancer that had spread to her lungs. She died nine months later at 70 years old. After my grandmother passed away, I decided to have a mole on my neck checked by a dermatologist. Thankfully, it tested negative for melanoma, but because of my family history, I will remain vigilant in checking for changes to my skin while educating others to do the same.
When I decided to compete for the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen title, one of the first aspects that drew me to the competition was the contestant’s platform. The platform is a way for contestants to impact the lives of others through becoming a champion for an issue. I knew immediately that my platform would deal with skin cancer awareness and prevention. Through my platform, Save Our Skin: Raising Awareness for Skin Cancer Prevention, I am working to educate others on sun safety so they can prevent melanoma and to make sure people understand that skin checks can save their lives.
I have spoken to more than 500 children and teens about the importance of sun safety. I have also worked with civic organizations to raise money for sunscreen dispensers, sunscreen samples, and to provide information about skin cancer checks. I raised over $700 through a pasta party to donate five sunscreen dispensers with enough refills for the entire summer to swimming pools in my hometown and the Grenada Lake beach. I am working with skin cancer survivors to provide sunscreen dispensers at two youth ballfields, one in Magee, Mississippi, and the other in Tupelo, Mississippi. Additionally, I am reaching out to the City of Southaven and Snowden Grove Park which will serve as the host site for the 2018 U.S. Dizzy Dean Baseball World Series. My goal is to provide 3 sunscreen dispensers for use during the tournament. I have partnered with a weekly newspaper to publish sun safety tips where I am able to share the importance of skin cancer prevention with more than 100,000 homes in Mississippi. I have used social media to bring awareness to skin cancer prevention by using comments, likes, and shares to give away two baskets of sun protectant items. I have distributed 300 sunscreen samples to children and teens. I worked with a local hair salon to create a video on how hair stylists can give clients a #HeadsUp by looking for suspicious spots on scalps. I was successful in working with the Governor of the State of Mississippi to declare May as Mississippi’s Melanoma Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.
In July 2018, I will compete for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen where I will be able to share Save Our Skin nationally. Regardless of the outcome of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, I will spend the next year promoting skin cancer awareness and prevention and working to make a difference in the lives of others. My ultimate goal is to work with the American Academy of Dermatology to ensure that there is at least one free SPOTme® Skin Cancer Screening in every state by July 31st, 2019. I also think it is necessary for pediatricians to provide parents with “Prevent. Detect. Live®” handouts on sun protection tips for children. Schools can make a difference in the fight against skin cancer by developing sun safety policies such as allowing students to apply sunscreen, avoiding outdoor activities during the hottest times of the day, or permitting students to wear hats, visors, or sunglasses when in the sun. I am committed to using my family’s experience to help others have a better understanding of sun safety and skin cancer. Let’s shine a #SPOTlight on early detection and work together to save lives.
Tan Rajakulendran is a no ordinary dermatology medical resident – he is also a scientist whose groundbreaking work in melanoma is already benefiting melanoma patients worldwide.
The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund is proud to celebrate Tan, MD, PhD, as the 2017 co-recipient of the inaugural DCMF Award. The DCMF Award was jointly established by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and the University of Toronto to support and advance melanoma research. The DCMF Award is available to residents and fellows in the Department of Medicine, or a student in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, who has demonstrated a special interest and research achievements in the field of melanoma.
Tan’s impact on our understanding of melanoma began during his PhD where his team made significant breakthroughs. Intrigued by the 2002 UK discovery that 2/3 of common melanomas have a BRAF gene mutation, Tan’s team began to study the behaviour of the BRAF protein. They were particularly interested in understanding how the mutation in melanoma causes BRAF to always stay on. In 2009, their research led to the discovery of BRAF’s main ‘on/off switch’, which laid the groundwork for a new class of anti-cancer therapies. It also garnered Tan recognition for making inroads into understanding the role of other genes that work in concert with BRAF in melanoma.
After completing his PhD, Tan entered medical school. As a clinician-scientist, Tan’s research has continued throughout his medical training. In 2017, in collaboration with several groups in Canada and the US, he was involved in uncovering an important molecular basis for how another gene called RAS plays a role in melanoma. This discovery has opened an exciting avenue for future drug designs in melanoma as well as other cancers.
Once his medical residency is complete, Tan plans to make melanoma the focus of both his research and clinical work – which will make him the only melanoma-focused dermatologist-scientist in Canada.
The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund is proud to celebrate Dr. April Rose, Medical Oncology Resident, MD, PhD, as the 2017 co-recipient of the inaugural DCMF Award.
The DCMF Award was jointly established by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and the University of Toronto to support and advance melanoma research. The DCMF Award is available to residents and fellows in the Department of Medicine, or students in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, who have demonstrated a special interest and research achievements in the field of melanoma.
Inspired by the important advances in melanoma treatments, April shifted her focus of oncology research from breast cancer to melanoma during her postgraduate work. Since that shift, April’s research has lead to first author peer-reviewed publications, international collaborations and prestigious national and international awards.
April’s research focuses on the investigation of the molecular mechanisms of cancer progression. In the past five years, April has worked on several projects aimed at optimizing targeted therapies for melanoma.
By using molecular techniques to determine how melanoma tumors adapt in response to targeted therapies, April and her team have developed combination therapy strategies that more effectively shrink and eradicate melanoma tumors in mice. They are currently working towards translating their lab-based findings into clinical trials so patients can have access to the treatments.
As a clinician scientist, April’s research findings have directly informed the care of her patients. In turn, caring for melanoma patients further motivates April’s research to significantly improve melanoma treatments.
When “Dear 16 year old me” started making the rounds, it was two days before I would receive the results for an abnormal mole I had removed on my side.
To give you a little bit of a back story, I’m a fair skinned girl who has tons of moles…just tons. I had my first weird looking mole removed when I was a kid. My doctor explained to me why I needed it to be taken off and tested and what I should look for. He told me how important it was to talk to my doctor if I noticed anything on my skin that looked strange. Since then, I’ve always kept an eye on my skin and brought any weird looking or changing moles to my doctor (nine to be exact) and had them removed. They always came back clean. I honestly didn’t really worry too much about them. It never really occurred to me to be overly concerned because I’ve always paid close attention to my skin.
About 3.5 years ago, I changed cities and family doctors. On my first visit with my new doc I showed him two moles on my stomach. They caught my attention because they were new moles and they had been slowly getting bigger. He took a look, said they were fine.
I kept an eye on them and made sure to bring them up to him every single time I had a doctor’s appointment. I would tell him that they are changing shape, getting bigger, that there was a change in colour… all textbook signs of melanoma. Every time he said it was fine and I left feeling like I was overreacting.
In December of 2016 I went in for my yearly checkup and, lucky for me, there was a resident who was doing training and would be the one to take point on my exam. I showed her the moles on my stomach yet again as well as a weird looking one that was on my side. My doctor agreed to let the resident take the mole off my side but not the ones on my stomach because, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, they were “fine”.
The mole on my side was removed and I received a call a week later that it came back abnormal and that I needed to come back in. The doctor couldn’t see me for a month so I used that timeline to keep calm. I felt if it was something serious, they would need to see me right away. I was also under the false impression that if it did come back as skin cancer, it wouldn’t be a big deal (boy, was I misinformed!). I was a little bit of a basket case (but only a little) waiting for the results but I was holding it together and trying to not think about it.
I was checking Facebook two days before I was scheduled to go in to get my results when I came across “Dear 16 year old me”. Cue tears, panic, a sense of dread, and googling photos of all three kinds of skin cancers to see if the mole I had removed matched any of the photos. If it was anything, it was a melanoma.
At my appointment I found out it was something called a Clarks Nevus, which isn’t really something to worry about. I’ve never been so relieved in my life. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the moles on my stomach were an issue and keeping “Dear 16 year old me” in mind, I insisted this time that my doctor remove them. Even as he was cutting them out, he kept telling me they were fine. He was humouring me.
I bounced out of that appointment feeling great and not actually worried that my results would come back as anything. A week later, I received a phone call saying the doctor needed to see me that day. My heart sank. I knew what the news was going to be. Both were melanomas.
I was referred to a wonderful surgeon who informed me that luckily, one of them was what is called a melanoma in-situ. They needed to take out a little bit of extra skin around it to make sure that they removed all of it but no further treatment was needed.
The other one, unfortunately, was not in-situ and had started to gain the wonderful ability to spread to my lymph nodes and from there wreak havoc on all my internal organs. My surgeon was pretty confident that it had not spread but because my family doctor let it go as long as he did, it was recommended that I get a sentinel node biopsy.
If you don’t know what that is, let me tell you about the world of fun that goes along with it. Because my mole was smack dab in the middle of my stomach, there were four different lymph node sites that (if the cancer had spread) it could have gone to. To identify which area(s) the melanoma would most likely visit, I was injected with this dye that feels like 100 bees are stinging you at the same time. Not fun.
Turns out that my body is a bit of an over achiever and I had two sites (one in each armpit) where they would need to go in and remove some lymph nodes to confirm that the melanoma had not spread. Do you have any idea how many nerves are in your armpits and how much it hurts if someone were to slice into them?!? Thank goodness for post-op pain killers.
Lots of post-surgery checkups and some killer scars later, I received my clean bill of health. I now have a life of slathering on sunscreen with reckless abandon, stylish hats, and constantly being way over dressed for the heat. Basically, I’m a greasy, sweaty mess who rocks hat hair.
Had I not known what I was looking for and actually listened to my family doctor, I most likely would have caught it too late. The key to fighting this cancer is timing and awareness. Your family doctor is not the be all and end all for medical knowledge. Inform yourself. Advocate for your health and the health of your loved ones.
I want to thank the David Cornfield Melanoma Foundation and those involved in making “Dear 16 year old me” for giving me the resources I needed to advocate for my own health and for making me realize that it’s more than “just skin cancer”.
I will now live a long, pale, and very greasy life that I couldn’t be more thankful for.
Thank you for putting that video together and all the amazing work that you do.
By Danielle Paterson, Executive Director, David Cornfield Melanoma Fund
This year’s Melanoma Awareness Month was a great one for DCMF. Our awareness, prevention and research efforts were in full swing. Our 2017 Sun Smart Kids Program starting rolling out across Ontario, our melanoma awareness videos Dear 16 Year Old Me and #newfamilyrule continued to empower people to protect and check their skin, and the DCMF Award at the University of Toronto began to take shape.
We also had the great pleasure to celebrate DCMF’s 10th Anniversary with our most loyal supporters at Deloitte Thursday Night Lights on May 11th. That night we spent some time reflecting on where we started and what we have achieved.
We have also taken the time to reflect on the significant melanoma awareness, prevention and research progress worldwide – much has changed since DCMF began in 2007. In particular, we admire Australia’s efforts to tackle melanoma head on. In 2014, Australia became the first country in the world to see a decrease in melanoma rates. This decrease was no fluke. It was as a result of a concerted multi-year, multi-sectoral strategy to curb melanoma in Australia – the country that had the highest melanoma rates in the world. Using prominent public health campaigns, school-based sun safety programs, the development of sun protective clothing and the use of shade, Australia enabled its citizens to significantly reduce their risk of melanoma. In 2016, Australia even banned indoor tanning nationally. Australia’s leadership is commendable.
On the research front, the past 10 years have been remarkable. New diagnostic technologies have emerged making early detection more effective. And groundbreaking treatment options, such as targeted treatment and immunotherapy, have been introduced and are helping to save lives that certainly would have been lost a decade ago.
These awareness, prevention and research advances are impressive. But much work remains to be done.
Skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma) is the most common cancer in North America accounting for more cases than the four major cancers combined (breast, colorectal, lung and prostate). Thankfully, melanoma is preventable and treatable if detected early.
During DCMF’s first decade, a strong foundation has been built to help curb the incidence of melanoma. This Melanoma Awareness Month, we did our small part. Moving forward, every month, we all need to do more.
By Elyse Sunshine, Board Member, David Cornfield Melanoma Fund
Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless ~Sherry Anderson
Every organization, especially a small grassroots charity like ours, knows it would be impossible to function without volunteers. In fact, the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund (the “DCMF”) started because a group of dedicated volunteers got together to ensure that David’s wish to take steps to ensure that no other family had to lose a loved one from melanoma was attained. Now 10 years later, this exact same group of volunteers still sits at the helm of the DCMF. In the world of charities and not-for-profits, that is quite an accomplishment (if we do say so ourselves)! This is attributable not only to the love and respect we had for David and our desire to honour his legacy, but also because of the countless other volunteers who have helped us along our journey to save lives from melanoma.
While it is impossible for us to acknowledge all of those incredible people by name (and some of them don’t like the limelight), in this National Volunteer Week, we want to celebrate the people who have supported us by generously giving their time over our first 10 years.
First, we have all the dynamic and dedicated committee members, both past and present, who have organized and run our events and fundraising activities such as David Batori, Ronit Schiff, Jeff Michaels, Andrea Siegel and Adam Perzow. All our committee members have gone above and beyond for DCMF. Using his redheaded charm, Adam also acts as our lead volunteer fundraiser, securing significant corporate sponsorships and donations. We are extremely grateful for Adam’s commitment and dedication.
The DCMF would also not be complete without the numerous wonderful folks who step up to help us execute our events. * We have those in the “melanoma community” who have appeared in our videos and slideshows and shard their words and powerful images. Your assistance set us on our journey and continues to motivate us day after day. And then there are those remarkable people who work so hard, often physically hard, to assist us with all of our activities. From setting up silent auction tables, to delivering pies, to handing out SPF lip balm by an icy ski mountain – we have been amazed at the unsung heroes who step up year after year after year to ensure that our events and awareness activities run smoothly and professionally. Whatever their connection may be to the DCMF – be it David’s family or friends or colleagues, family or friends of a Board member, someone impacted by melanoma or just a kind “stranger,” these selfless souls are the light of our events. Their eagerness to help where needed and warm smiles are appreciated more than words can express.
We are also fortunate to have had the benefit of what I will call “professional” volunteers. These are people who, by their profession or trade, have a skill that we need but cannot afford (or are fortunate not to have to pay for). Over the years, we have had many such professionals, like Dana Fields and Andrea Goldstein, whose communications and PR expertise helped to ensure that our awareness campaigns and efforts received the outreach we were seeking. Then there are the people like Jason Mednick, Wade Makarus and his team and Jon Stancer/Parade Creative who made us look good through the development of our website, creating melanoma awareness pamphlets brochures, program logos and event invitations. And people like Elliott Sylman whose photos make us all look good and Cheryl Kaplan, who created beautiful artwork for our Sun Smart Kids program that reaches thousands upon thousands of pre-kindergarten kids and their parents. We have also had the benefit of volunteer medical advisors like Dr. Paul Cohen whose charm and charisma has helped us relay our messages on television and Dr. Ghazarian whose devotion to David started when he was his pathologist and who has been a guiding light in helping us determine goals and priorities for the melanoma community. We have people who have volunteered their time by providing advice, guidance and opportunities, like Ryan Brain and Marisa Caple. We have also been privileged to receive volunteer legal advice, accounting advice and pretty much, every kind of advice that a charitable organization needs in order to function.
And then there is our behind the scenes volunteer administrative assistance. There is Gwen Razieli who diligently sends out our donation appreciation cards. And we cannot forget those volunteers who come to the DCMF through the Board members’ “day jobs.” As busy professionals, our Board members have called again and again on our workplace assistants to also facilitate DCMF tasks. They do so willingly, spending their lunch hours and breaks volunteering their time to make the DCMF happen. Michelle Bilboe, Laura Skotanis, Krysten Walker, Susan Coffin and Gray Picco, we adore your enthusiasm and the efforts you make to keep us on task!
While not technically a volunteer, we would be completely remiss if we didn’t acknowledge our phenomenal Executive Director, Danielle Paterson. We all know that in addition to her duties, she actually volunteers countless hours of her time and efforts (and her family’s as well) to keep the DCMF running as smoothly as it does and enable us to grow and execute our vision and dreams. Danielle’s selflessness and devotion to the DCMF and our cause has been absolutely tremendous and we feel so lucky to have her on our team.
And finally, we have a different type of volunteer, but one whose importance cannot be underestimated. We thank all the people who lend their time, enthusiasm and energy by helping us get our awareness messages out to the public. These are the people who run on the DCMF Team in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, encourage their kids to do school projects about the DCMF, watch our videos, share our social media posts, and show up when we ask them to. As has been said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”. Thanks to our volunteers, DCMF can continue to make BIG things happen.
So, here’s to all of the DCMF’s volunteers. We thank you all for your commitment, enthusiasm and dedication over these past 10 years. We look forward to your continued support as we move into this next era for the DCMF. Without you, there truly would be no DCMF and we can honestly say that thanks to you, we are realizing David’s dream and we are saving lives from melanoma.
Happy National Volunteer Week!
*Just a few of our recent event volunteers include: Aimee, Alan, Bernadette, Carly, Cindy, Deborah, Ellen, Erin, Joe, Lisa, Marilyn, Julie, David, Lillian, Joel, Marc, Naomi, Mike, Michelle, Natalia, Rochelle, Shoshana, Tamara, Olga.