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As a child, I was hardly ever in the sun. Then came my teen years and the societal image of the tanned blue-eyed blonde seemed like it was the thing to do. By Grade 12, my fair skinned was brown from using tanning beds and I remembered someone commented on how healthy I looked. Using the tanning beds was the only way I could get a tan.
I was always a “moley” person and knew I needed to see a Dermatologist but never understood why. I would go for my annual checks and never thought twice when Dermatologists removed a mole. I can’t understand why I never even questioned these procedures. I was young and was must of thought I was invincible. I was not aware of the dangers of tanning.
It was my first-year teaching and my daughter was in kindergarten; I was 27. I saw a new Dermatologist, he gave me the once over and I pointed to a mole on my arm that was scabbing and bleeding at times. He removed it promptly. I got a phone call at work from a different Dermatologist, a melanoma specialist, who told me I had melanoma and that I needed to come in for various tests and a wide excision. My appointment was booked for the last day of school; something as a first-year teacher I looked forward to celebrating with students. I told him I couldn’t miss the last day and that HE didn’t get it. He was right that it was ME who didn’t get it. He then used the words skin cancer. Now I got it. A wide excision, lymph node removal and five years of surveillance is what was in store for me. My melanoma was 0.99m and no signs of metastasis. I will always be thankful for the guidance and caring nature of Dr. Thomas Salopek. I joined the Alberta Society of Melanoma and met many people who had experienced what I was going through. I was not alone. I will always remember the wonderful people I met along this journey including Tanny Nadon and Mary Johnston and have so much gratitude to the Alberta Society of Melanoma for having a patient support network.
Fast forward a decade and came a new chapter in my life. The birth of another daughter and son. I continued to see Dermatologists but more frequently. In 2014 I was blessed to come across Dr. Melody Cheung Lee. She met me for the first time and was so caring and empathetic. She saw a mole on my upper thigh and removed it. It came back as a melanoma however caught very early. I will always be thankful for her keen eye and gentle disposition. In 2017, I had 4 additional melanomas removed. In total, I have had 6 melanomas and multiple mole removals.
I am an advocate for myself and for others. I have experienced the wide range of emotions that come with being diagnosed with cancer and have faced misconceptions such as “it’s just skin cancer.” I try to make the most out of each day and live fearlessly.
I continue to teach full-time and enjoy my family. Volunteering for the Alberta Society of Melanoma to educate the public and see change in policies is a goal of mine. Working as a team and collaborating are at the heart of who I am, and I believe that we all have a voice. No matter where we are on this journey, it is our journey. Patient support and advocacy are at the foundation of this society which I hope to develop further. I am excited to be sharing this opportunity with Al Nak and members of the ASM. We are survivors.
Win4Skin is an associated organization dedicated to raising funds for skin cancer research by a banquet and a golf tournament.
The 2018 banquet was held on Saturday June 2 at
the Blatchford Field Air Hangar at Fort Edmonton Park. The event included a buffet dinner, speeches from Win4Skin community members, a fantastic live and silent auction and a dance to wrap up the
night. For more information on Win4Skin check the website at https://win4skin.com/banquet/
Below is a video about the organization with a testimonial by our own Lisa Brent.
Dr. D. W. C. (Bill) Johnston
We regret to inform you that Dr. Bill Johnston died
February 19, 2018.
The Alberta Society of Melanoma has been invited to participate in a new project hosted by Alberta Health Services. Representatives from ASM will be meeting on September 7, 2018 with other representatives involved in preventing skin cancer. More details to follow.
The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) is once again holding “Strides for Melanoma”, a walk/run to raise funds for melanoma treatment and research. It will be held on Sunday, September 23 at Hermitage Park.
The Alberta Cancer Foundation issues a magazine for cancer patients. This month they are featuring a researcher familiar with ASM, Dr. Michael Smylie. Please click on the following link for the article.
Lisa Brent appeared on Global TV Edmonton Sunday to talk about melanoma and the Strides for Melanoma Walk.
She also appeared on CTV Edmonton on Friday, September 14 with the same message.