Tag Archives: melanoma

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, speed kayak, CyberDERM

Why You Need To Know About Maddy Mackenzie: Our Newest Sun Safe, Sun Whip Ambassador and Canada’s Next Athletic Superstar

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, speed kayak, CyberDERM

Maddy Takes to the Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people are just born with a level of magnetism. When you pair that with an ability to execute your own dreams with sheer will, ability and discipline- you have an athletic superstar in your making.   You also have local-Chelsea, Quebec born and raised Maddy Mackenzie.

Maddy Mackenzie has been part of her local kayak community at the Casacades club in Gatineau since the age of six. She is currently part of the Senior National Development Team of Canoe Kayak Canada and an elite member of the Canoe Kayak Quebec Team. At the age of 19, she has also racked up several National and world titles, including a fifth place finish at the U23 World Championships in Portugal this past July. All of this to say, her bid to be an Olympic hopeful and champion is more than just rhetoric, it’s imminent.

Maddy Mackenzie, olympic athlete, Cascades club, speed kayaking, CyberDERM

Maddy with Student From Paddle All Program at Cascades Club

Maddy also happens to have the kind of bright, and shall we say sunny, disposition that makes you want to support her. Unfortunately she has also been touched with personal tragedy.  In 2001, Maddy’s long time coach and mentor Lucy Slade passed away after losing her battle with melanoma. Lucy was only 39, and her death was incredibly hard on not only her loved ones but on her close knit kayaking community. Her Cascades club has since held a memorial regatta every year to help raise awareness and funds for melanoma. Maddy continues to pay tribute to her as well by riding in Lucy’s K1 (kayak) and even winning National titles in it.

It made perfect sense then for us to partner with Maddy and have her be our Sun Safe, Sun Whip Ambassador. Maddy spends most of her days completing on-water training and travels the world to beautiful (and sunny) locales like for this years Under-23 World Championships in Portugal and later for winter training in Florida. It means she, like her teammates, receive a larger than typical amount of UV exposure than many but she also recognizes that the rates of melanoma and skin cancer are rapidly increasing in her peer category for all young women, from 16-35+ years. She is quickly realizing that sun safety and skin cancer prevention is an important national and international level discussion that has to take place.

It’s with immense pride then that while she is shaving off milliseconds and taking us all along for her journey to Olympic greatness, she is also showing the world that sun safety can be sun chic and inspiring generations to lead their healthiest version of their own lives. She really is a true embodiment of our motto to #liveinthelight and we are humbled that we get to partner with her for whatever comes up in the next couple of years.

Maddy Mackenzie, Olympic athlete, speed Kayak, CyberDERM

Stay Tuned for More with Maddy

Stay tuned to hear more from Maddy herself and to watch her complete her bid for the ultimate in athletic glory.

 

 

 

 

 

Melanomoa, Skin Cancer, Melanoma awareness

Surviving Melanoma: The New Face of Skin Cancer (and it’s younger than you think)

Melanomoa, Skin Cancer, Melanoma awareness

Surviving Melanoma- The New Face of Skin Cancer

When we learned how fast the rates of melanoma were increasing in teenagers and people aged 25-35, we knew we had to do our best to get the word out especially as May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Why is skin cancer the number 1 cancer killer for young women ages 25-35? What demographic shift has happened to make this a huge concern for Millennials?

It’s obviously a confluence of lifestyle factors that are making this a serious trend.  My theory (and it’s only a theory) is that the sunscreens from the 90’s that we grew up with might have role to play.  I remember how great sunscreen was as a kid- you could do a quick coat and then with the odd re-apply be good to stay out all day long and not burn.  We know those sunscreens had real stability issues and were UVB biased- it was just the state of the science back then. It would stand to reason that we are now paying for this childhood exposure some twenty years later. There are better sunscreens available now so hopefully we will not see this trend continue for our children but of course that depends on choosing a good sunscreen, enacting good compliance and observing other sun safety measures.

Anyways, enough from me.  When I heard Julie’s story, I knew we had to share.  It absolutely obliterates the myth that melanoma equates to removing a bad mole in your doctor’s office.  It’s a life changer and it can be heart wrenching.  Here’s her story in her own words.

Julie, 35 year old Teacher

What were you diagnosed with and when?
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Melanoma Skin Cancer of the left Ear Helix, in March 2014. I first had noticed a bump on my ear on January 1st celebrating New Year’s Eve in Huatulco Mexico with family while putting on sunscreen. This would be the start of a world-wind of a year physically and emotionally.
After being diagnosed, and reeling from the devastating news, they informed me that not only did they have to remove a significant part of my ear, but that it was medically suggested to remove my sentinel lymph node in my neck since there was a small possibility that the cancer might of spread due to the melanoma’s initial size of 1mm as well as they found that some of the cells shown that they had metastasized. This was to be very invasive with possible worst case scenario side effects such as nerve damage to facial, tongue, shoulder muscles or diaphragm.
Two days before my operation, my surgeon informed me that they would scale back the decision to remove my sentinel lymph node since the chances of it spreading were so minimal as compared to the invasiveness and the fact that if it had spread that the removal didn’t change the prognosis.
It’s a common perception that having skin cancer treated is normally the equivalent to having a mole removed at your doctor’s office, can you share how your treatment proceeded?
This was, as for many other patient’s going through this type of diagnosis, certainly not a routine or non invasive procedure. Due to the location of the melanoma, in my case to be on the helix part of my ear, I had to undergo a 1 hour surgery under anaesthesia to remove a pie shape piece of my ear, inserting over 50 stitches to be able to resew both sides back together. Two weeks later they removed the bandage I had to wear the entire time, as well as most of the stitches, to which I was finally able to go back to work. I could not sleep on the left side  for 3 months after the operation since it was still very sensitive to touch and pressure. This proved to be very difficult due to the fact that I was a toss and turn type of sleeper, therefore, did not sleep to my full potential for those 3 months.
What is your current status with your treatment?
From the day of my operation on April 16,2014, I have been Melanoma free. I have routine check-ups every 3 months to monitor the healing process of the ear as well as to monitor any symptoms of possible spreading to my sentinel lymph nodes, of which due to the 1mm size of the Melanoma Cancer there was a 2% chance that it had spread. I will be officially in remission after 5 years of being monitored.
What was your initial reaction when you were first diagnosed?
I was in a state of  shock. Nothing can really prepare you for that type of news. The feeling of regret, helplessness and sadness all rolled into one, which was so foreign to me. I was and slowly getting back to being the person , dare I say, that always has a tremendous sense of confidence and  instinctive ” joie de vivre”.
Has this changed how you feel about your health in general? What’s it’s impact been on you: physically and emotionally?
I live my life with an even deeper appreciation of my health in general .Since this has happened I unfortunately have been overly in tuned with any changes with my body, and this sometimes not for the best. Every headache, every ear ache, or any ailment my thoughts automatically are that the cancer had or is spreading , to my brain, to my lymph nodes, which is probably a very unlikely occurrence, but nonetheless a worry I have ever since the diagnosis.
Physically, I now have a significantly smaller ear, which to the naked eye or to someone that doesn’t know me wouldn’t of noticed, but I certainly do. However, this was a physical change that has no subsequent consequences to my daily functions. It is primarily an aesthetic change, and in my case, not directly on my face, and can be hidden by my hair when I wear it down.  I am a physical education teacher, as well as an active person, therefore, I do wear my hair up often which does expose my ears, and I am at the point that it does not bother me anymore.
 It has been an adjustment in some areas :  ie. talking on the phone with that ear, sleeping on that ear, sunglasses or glasses affecting the ear, but they seem to be subsiding with time and who knows, will probably be a non issue in the near future, and if not, like I had explained such a small sacrifice compared to so many.
I understand that self-esteem is directly linked to our physical appearance, but thankfully my confidence in myself does not center on that aspect. I focus on the fact that many more people have suffered greater loss or more severe physical ailments, due to cancers, diseases or even accidents. I am just so grateful.
Has this changed how you feel towards sun exposure and the outdoors?
Since the day I noticed the abnormal mole , and to this day, I am no longer a fan of the sun. Knowing more in depth what I know now, and realizing that my cancer was caused by a combination of pre-disposed genes, but more importantly my negligence to the strength and danger of the sun, I definitely try my best to avoid being in the sun, directly and to that matter without the best skincare products offered to protect it.
What has been the hardest part from your diagnosis through to your treatment?
The hardest part is the unknown. The fact that there is, and will be for 5 years, still a small chance that it had spread to my lymph nodes and that only time will tell, has been very difficult and caused anxiety, which is very foreign to me. However, I  focus on the positives and the fact that the overwhelming chances are that it will not re-occur, and that I have an important role by being diligent with protecting my skin.
How worried are you about re-occurrence? 
I would lie if I said I had no worries of re-occurrence. At the beginning, it was a daily thought. Once first diagnosed, it was many of those thoughts throughout a day. However, slowly but surely, it is fewer than once a day. There are events, movies, words, and even physical pain or ailments that can trigger a mini emotional roller-coster, but I have always found a way to turn into a positive and appreciate even more the life I lead.
 How has your perspective changed in relation to the sun?  Has it changed your behaviour?
Yes, it has drastically changed. I used to be of the thought that since I didn’t burn from sun exposure, I didn’t need to wear sunscreen. And how regretful I am now for this misconception and ignorance on my part.  I now  apply sunscreen daily on my face ,  as well as try my best to wear a hat to protect my face from any unwanted direct sun rays. If I am exposing the rest of my skin, I ensure that I reapply often and stay out of the direct sun as much as possible.
winterblues, sad, seasonal affective disorder, vitamin d, sunscreen

The Controversy about Vitamin D and sunscreen

Let’s take a look at the controversy about getting enough Vitamin D (especially this winter) while still wearing sunscreen every day.  None of us want to get a case of #SAD, so use these tips to help boost your daily intake.

First consider why vitamin D is so important:

  • It’s primary purpose is to assist parathormone and other metabolic agents in regulating and maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
  • Calcium requires vitamin D for efficient transport from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
  • Recent research suggests that vitamin D is important in the prevention of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, and some immune-system diseases. It has now replaced Vitamin C and E as being the “wonder” vitamin, if there is one.

There are two forms of vitamin D that are important in humans:

  • Vitamin D2 : Ergocalciferol contained in plants
  • Vitamin D3 : Cholecalciferol, manufactured in the skin from exposure to UV radiation and present in certain foods.

The controversy:

Recent studies find many individuals in Canada to be deficient in vitamin D. They wear sunscreen for protection in the summer and spend the long winter months wrapped from head to toe in warm clothing. This limits the production of vitamin D from the lower UV exposure. Some recommend to spend a limited time of 10 minutes in the sun without a sunscreen from time to time. At  CyberDERM and Laserderm (our sister medical clinic) we advocate stringent sunscreen protection all year round. The risk of UV exposure far outweigh any benefits from maintaining vitamin D production by the skin:

  • Most cases of skin cancer are potentially preventable, yet across the USA non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) has tripled from 1 million cases in 1987 to 3.5 million in 2009.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that melanoma rates have been increasing by 3.1% per year since 1986, despite the use of sunscreens, since most sunscreens may not protect against the longer UVA rays.
  • 3% of Canadians will develop some form of skin cancer this year.
  • In North America over $6 billion is spent removing actinic and cancerous lesions.
  • UV radiation from sun exposure causes skin cancer, and photoaging and pre-mature aging.

How much vitamin D do you really need?

We prefer that you get your Vitamin D from diet and supplements. The RDA may not be high enough for most Canadians. Most experts agree that children and adults who stay out of the sun require 1000-2000 IU daily, but you can safely take 2-4 thousand IU per day, particularly in the winter months.

What you may not know about vitamin D:

Every Morning Sun Whip, Simply Zinc Sun Whip
Got to love Vitamin D while still protecting yourself from the Sun
  • Vitamin D in the body has to be processed by the liver and the kidneys into a usable form. Whether the source is dietary or from sun exposure, once vitamin D is processed, the metabolic effect is the same. That is why dietary vitamin D works. Your body does not know whether the vitamin D being used came from sun exposure and the skin or from your diet.
  • You can get vitamin D from a variety of sources. Foods such as salmon, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks naturally contain vitamin D. Some foods like milk, orange juice, yogurts, and cheeses are fortified to increase their vitamin D and calcium content. Finally, there are prescription and over-the-counter vitamin D supplements that come in capsules and liquids.

Get your Vitamin D from diet and select your sunscreen wisely:

As mentioned in previous blogs, using a truly broad spectrum for sunscreen is essential. Avoid the high SPF trap where most believe that the higher – the better. For adequate sunburn protection measured by the SPF number, most need a minimum of SPF 25-30. Ensure you get truly broad-spectrum protection from even long wave UVA, most high SPF sunscreens will not protect you adequately. Current research and the findings of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirm that zinc and titanium-based formulations are among the safest, most effective sunscreens on the market. Zinc gives complete UVA and UVB, while titanium affords complete UVB and partial UVA protection. Clear zinc products, such as CyberDERM’s Every Morning Sun Whip, provides the complete protection in an aesthetic invisible film.