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A Conversation
on Prevention

Guest blogger, Tanning, June 7th, 2013

What if…

by Mackenzie Carnes, summer student with the Society and Tanning is Out coordinator for the Fraser Valley Region.

What if…“What if health was more important than that healthy looking glow?”

What if when someone tells you that cancer is preventable, you stop to wonder how?

We are a generation of procrastinators living in the now. We skip simple things like putting on sunscreen because we are young and are invincible. We laugh as we tell our friends how we got burned. The redness eventually fades and we forget the sting. We scoff at people telling us that one day we will pay. We think that it is so far away, who cares, we are living for today.

What if when we are older, the burns that we ignored come back?

Our skin does not forget. The damage builds, even if we can’t see it, until one day the doctor tells us a word that begins with a “c”. I do not want to regret.

What if today we make the change to prevent a preventable cancer? What if we look at our skin, whatever colour it may be, and we appreciate that it is just fine? What if we stop worrying? What if we disagree when someone says that a tan is beautiful?

What if tanning was out?

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 17th, 2013

New government brings new opportunities to work together on cancer prevention

On May 14th British Columbians went to the polls to elect a new government. Elections represent change with a promise of hope for a better tomorrow, much like the Canadian Cancer Society’s endless fight to create a healthier future for our province where no British Columbian fears cancer.  With the support of thousands of British Columbians and our amazing team of dedicated volunteers, the Society was able to speak-out loudly, raise our voices as one and help make cancer prevention an election issue. Read more

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 10th, 2013

Cancer prevention works – time for a new health care paradigm

By Ted Bruce, past-president of the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC), a voluntary, non-profit, non-government organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the public’s health. PHABC shares the Society’s concern for the need to increase investment in chronic disease prevention.

The cancer community has done a remarkable job of documenting the importance of prevention. They estimate that 50% of cancers are preventable and have an active campaign to encourage provincial government action on prevention. Learn more via the Canadian Cancer Society’s (BC & Yukon) Cancer Gameplan Election website.

Think about that number: 50%. Compare it to the 3% of health care we devote to public health preventive efforts.

The cancer community’s understanding and commitment to prevention is likely influenced by the remarkable story around tobacco reduction. A public health approach to tobacco reduction is a model that we can use to tackle a range of deadly and costly chronic diseases. But it comes at a price. The victories in the battle against smoking related diseases did not solely come from anti-smoking awareness and public education campaigns. In fact the amount of funding available for these types of campaigns is almost laughable compared to what industry spends marketing what we know are unhealthy products – a great deal of this marketing aimed a kids. Although we have seen prohibitions on advertising cigarettes in Canada, the food industry provides an example of the marketing battleground. The Ontario Healthy Kids Panel report No Time to Wait was unable to calculate the actual expenditure on food advertising aimed at children but they quote one study showing that “ four food ads per hour were shown during children’s peak television viewing times and six food ads per hour were shown during non-peak times. Approximately 83 per cent of those ads were for “non-core” foods and 24 per cent of food ads were for fast food restaurants.”[1]

The Prevention Institute, a non-profit organization in the US, quoting a Federal Trade Commission Report states that the fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. A full fact sheet on marketing foods and beverages to children is available on their website.

The tobacco battle has shown us that effective prevention programming incorporates a variety of strategies including taxation to affect price, marketing regulations, enforcement and efforts to change the environment to deter consumption. The National Collaborating Centre on Healthy Public Policy has an informative interactive timeline that is worth a look to see the long and hard fought battle over tobacco.

It is most important to understand, however, that tobacco reduction efforts required human resources for leadership, advocacy, policy development,  program development and program delivery. And there are just not enough of these resources available in the public health system to do the job for the chronic disease epidemic we are facing.

Is the battle against smoking related disease and death over? Not by a long shot. Smoking rates may have come down but we know they can go lower. And sadly in some populations smoking rates are still at very high levels with estimates that some groups smoke at 2 to 3 times the overall rate. Learn more through Health Canada’s Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.

We need to shift our thinking to support the cancer community’s prevention efforts. And we need to realize that cancer prevention is about more than tobacco. Chemicals in our environment, sedentary behaviour and poor diets are contributors to cancer. The time is overdue for a comprehensive prevention effort. Our political leaders need to have a vision for the future. Why is it good enough to prevent children being exposed to tobacco yet we tolerate an “in your face” obesity promoting environment for children. It is time to dream big and to put in place the human resources we need to realize that dream. We can all take a lesson from the efforts to prevent cancer. We need to shift to a new health and health care paradigm built on prevention.

[1] Kelly B, Halford JCG, Boyland E, Chapman K, Bautista-Castaño I, Berg C, et al. (2010). Television food advertising to children: A global perspective. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(9):1730-5

Click here to learn more about PHABC’s provincial election advocacy.

Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, May 10th, 2013

Exercising your right to vote can reduce your risk of cancer

Many of us know that exercising to maintain a healthy body weight is one of the key ways we can reduce our risk of cancer. But did you ever consider that exercising your right to vote could reduce your risk of cancer? Read More

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, May 7th, 2013

How Growing Kale is My Way of Embracing Good Health

Carol Pope is the editor of a dozen gardening books including the national bestsellers The Book of Kale and The Zero-Mile Diet. Previously the editor of Gardenwise magazine for a decade, she now blogs regularly about organic gardening and is currently working on The Book of Kale 2 with Sharon Hanna. Follow Carol on Twitter at @carolapope


Why gardening is an important excercise for me

I’ve never been much of one for exercise without purpose. Why slog it out on a treadmill when I can run back and forth from a pile of newly acquired manure to my raised beds? Both endeavours may keep me fit, but the latter also provides me with a garden. And, better yet, a garden brimming with healthy food that will also add to my wellbeing.  The same strategy holds true with upper-body workouts. Why pump weights when I can shovel soil? Why do bicep curls or tricep pushdowns when I can pull weeds, rake leaves, churn compost or roll rocks around? My garden drill keeps my body working and fit, something that I know helps to keep away cancer and other diseases. It also keeps my spirits up and my heart hopeful. In this turbulent world there is nothing that soothes me more than the gentle sway of life in the garden, than getting my hands into the dirt.

Still, even with directing my personal exercise regime toward the improvement of my kitchen garden, I have to be realistic about what I grow. There is only so much time and I want my efforts to equal a food garden that truly makes a difference in my life. I want to eat better because of what I sow and nourish those that I love.  I’ve tried growing just about every edible you can think of – from asparagus to zucchini – and while all are worthwhile, there’s nothing more generous and responsive in the garden than one hearty garden stalwart – kale.

 In a small backyard space, we have five raised beds brimming with kale – many types, in fact, so that it’s quite a pretty effect of red rippled leaves, green curly leaves and the lovely prolific ‘Red Russian’ that grows like a weed and self-seeds onto every barren inch of soil (for which I am always grateful). Unlike some lesser greens, kale doesn’t need to be continually replanted. Rather than pull the plant for dinner, we simply snip leaves and some of the succulent stems, buds and even flowers right into the salad bowl, never taking more than a third of the plant. It will grow back in a flash. In the kitchen, a token rinse is all that’s needed because kale grows so rapidly that it is always shiny-clean when you cut it.

A cinch to grow and sow

Growing kale is a snap. It’s a lover of cool weather, something we have lots of in B.C. Typically, I start some in seed trays in February or March for the spring/summer garden. And I also plant some in June or July. The summer crop reaches a good height by fall and then slows down growth-wise but continues to hang in there all through the winter. With a generous group of plants, you can basically pick the leaves all through the winter until the stems are almost naked. We always leave a few bits of green so that the plant isn’t completely stripped. Come February or March, depending on the weather, the stark-looking stems will burst forth with growth – with leaves curling outward from bottom to top – and there’s plenty to pick again, just as you were worrying that you might run out.

Pesticides for bug control?

I’ve had people ask me what I do to keep insects away – do I use pesticides near my food or do I go organic? To sum it up in a few words, I can’t imagine using pesticides anywhere in my garden ever. Why would I invite a cancer risk into my garden? The whole point of a garden for me is that it enhances my health, the health of my children and all those I love who tread through my yard, as well as the health of the birds and bees that I work to welcome to my outdoor space.

It’s right here, outside my door – a no-pesticide zone that I protect from chemical violations. All wildlife is welcome here. All human life is welcome here. If the cabbage butterfly larva shows up on my kale, I remind my kids that if the insects are eating it, that means it’s good food for us too. If we poison our garden so that insects can’t survive, what does that say about what it might do to us?  The same goes for our little bit of lawn, our flowers, our trees, much of which winds up in our compost heap and is reshuffled into the circle of life that is my garden. I might pluck a slug out of my parsley patch or plant some lovage to serve as a nursery for aphid-eating ladybug larva – in other words, help Nature keep my garden strong – but it is and always will be a poison-free place. Otherwise, I have to ask: what’s the point?

Show your support for a cosmetic pesticide-free BC. Click here to email all party leaders!


Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, May 3rd, 2013

Prevent pets from licking pesticide off their paws this spring

Today, the BC SPCA tells us why they support strong cosmetic pesticide legislation. BC SPCA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life for domestic, farm and wide animals in British Columbia.

Each spring, animals face an unnecessary danger: cosmetic pesticides.

These chemicals are used to control unwanted weeds and make lawns and gardens more attractive, but it’s increasingly clear that these benefits come at the expense of human and animal health.

The World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have published studies linking pesticide exposure to certain types of cancer.

More than 39 B.C. municipalities — including Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Maple Ridge, Whistler and Kelowna — have adopted bylaws to ban cosmetic pesticide use due to the risks to humans, pets and wildlife. However, without province-wide legislation to prevent the sale of cosmetic pesticides it’s likely that consumers will continue to buy them.

The BC SPCA has joined the Canadian Cancer Society in calling for a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides in B.C. The ban would encompass private lawns as well as sports fields, parks and playgrounds.

“Seven other provinces have already banned the sale of cosmetic pesticides and we believe B.C. should follow suit,” says Geoff Urton, manager of stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA. “The chemicals used in these products are highly toxic and present real risks to the health and well-being of our pets and wildlife species.”

Pets, like children, are at greater risk from pesticide exposure because they are closer to the ground. Worse, though, is the fact that animals can easily consume the chemicals used in products that kill weeds.

“If your dog or cat steps on grass that’s been treated with pesticides, the next time he licks his paws he is ingesting poison,” says Geoff Urton. “Or imagine a mother robin pulling a pesticide-covered worm from your lawn and feeding it to her newly-hatched offspring.”

It’s estimated that 25 per cent of B.C. households with a lawn or garden still use cosmetic pesticides. Until a pesticide ban is in place, take precautions to protect the animals in your care:

- Pay attention to “keep off grass” signs and avoid areas where pesticides may have been used.

- Wash and wipe your pets’ paws when they come in from outside.

- Pay particular attention to between the pads where substances can become trapped in fur, and the undersides of claws, where chemicals can also become embedded.

End the use of cosmetic pesticides in B.C. Visit the Canadian Cancer Society website to email B.C.’s party leaders in support of a ban.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Survivor, April 20th, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Ban Cosmetic Pesticides

by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer

1)     No one should have to worry about children playing in the grass

Children are at greater risk from pesticide exposure than adults because they play closer to the ground and their bodies are still developing. Cosmetic pesticides can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or be swallowed when children place contaminated objects and their hands and in their mouths. Don’t forget about our pets too!

2)     It’s a public health issue

There is a growing body of evidence linking pesticide exposure with certain types of cancer, including childhood leukemia and childhood brain cancer.

3)     They’re not necessary

Cosmetic pesticides are used to make lawns, gardens and other green spaces look better. We call them ‘cosmetic’ because some think they improve the appearance of lawns and gardens. Regardless, they are not needed for health and safety. Safe and effective alternatives exist.  

4)     Pesticides don’t stop at the garden gate

Your family can be indirectly exposed even if you do not use cosmetic pesticides. If sprayed, cosmetic pesticides can drift through the environment and mix with the air, soil, or water. Pesticides may even collect on plants & objects we don’t intend to spray.

5)     British Columbians support a ban  

- 40 municipalities have cosmetic pesticide restrictions

- More than 70% of British Columbians support provincial legislation to restrict pesticide use

- 76% of British Columbians are aware of the link between pesticides & cancer


We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.

How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides.

Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.

Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, April 15th, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention

The Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) is a voluntary, non-profit, non-government organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the public’s health. PHABC shares the Society’s concern for the need to increase investment in chronic disease prevention. Click here to learn more about PHABC’s provincial election advocacy.

Our province faces increasing costs to our health system and society, largely due to preventable illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

8% of British Columbians have been diagnosed as having one or more chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are forecasted to increase by 58% in BC over the next 25 years.

An additional $1.5 billion of funding will be required over the next three years to keep pace with the increase in demand for health services.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Decades of research have shown that preventive health care, or health interventions that take place before the onset of disease, can:

- reduce the rate of people developing chronic diseases (so people can live longer, healthier lives); and

- help control health care costs.

Opportunities for Action

The 6% Solution
We need a significant increase in prevention health care in the health care system.

Current funding for public and population health approaches only make up 3% of the $17 billion provincial health care budget. We need to double this number to 6%.

What we’re doing right now is not good enough. We need more preventative health programs to ensure the sustainability of our health care system, and protect the health of our future generations.

We need you to raise your voice. Join us and advocate for more preventative health programming. Here’s how.

Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, April 10th, 2013

Let’s keep the momentum going

by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer

It’s great to see the BC Government has taken steps to tackle tobacco. The BC Smoking Cessation Program offers free 24/7 help to those who want to quit through and Quit Now by Phone.

This is a great start to helping an estimated 70% of smokers who wish to quit – not to mention that it reduces second-hand smoke for those who don’t smoke. Let’s keep the momentum going by making sure we have smoke-free outdoor places across the province.

Why are we asking for smoke-free outdoor places?

1. Tobacco is a major health issue that needs the attention of our provincial leaders. In Canada, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death – 37,000 Canadians die every year of tobacco related illnesses – including cancer.

2. Second-hand smoke is extremely toxic. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals including at least 50 known cancer-causing substances.  In an outdoor setting, second-hand smoke is a hazard. In fact, being within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels comparable to homes and bars that allow smoking.

Banning smoking in parks, playgrounds, patios and beaches is a sound public health policy that can increase motivation for smokers to quit or cut back, decrease unhealthy role modelling for children and youth and de-normalize smoking behaviour. What a great way for the BC Government to invest in cancer prevention.

All British Columbians should be protected from second-hand smoke. Strong province-wide legislation would give British Columbians access to smoke-free outdoor public places, especially the parks and playgrounds where children play.

Do your part by living smoke-free and avoiding second-hand smoke. Let’s enjoy our beaches, parks, patios, playgrounds, without the worry of second-hand smoke. With your help we can enjoy healthier communities.

Ready to get started? Contact your MLA today and voice your concerns. Find out what they’re doing to help ban smoking in public places. Learn more at

If you’re ready to quit smoking, download our One Step at a Time guide.

For more quit smoking resources, visit

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, April 3rd, 2013

Faster than the speed of light

Carol Pope is the editor of a dozen gardening books including the national bestsellers The Book of Kale and The Zero-Mile Diet. Also editor of Gardenwise magazine for a decade, she writes regularly about organic gardening in BC. Carol offers us simple and easy tips for pesticide-free gardening.

All creatures love snacking in the garden (without fear of being poisoned by pesticides)

Faster than the speed of light – or so it seems – weeds spread through my garden. In my own backyard I combat these villians on a daily basis – thistle, lady’s thumb, oxeye daisy and more, ripping out these roughshodders by the roots.

This keeps my compost bin full and my fitness levels up. I’ve adapted a “step, pull, step, pull” strategy, with pruners in my back pocket to help slow down those that are too robust to be wrestled from the ground. Meanwhile, the weeds decompose into a nourishing food for my edible garden. I add organic grass clippings to the compost, or even use them as a weed-suppressing mulch around my berry bushes, along with shredded autumn leaves. Lawn clippings are a fantastic resource and can be a big part of the circle of life within a garden – that is, of course, assuming they are organic and not drenched in poisonous pesticides. Here are a few more tips:

 Shallow watering sources and herb gardens attract the “good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs

If you think you need to spray a porous driveway or walkway to keep weeds down, just spritz a titch of vinegar on a sunny day – safe for kids, dogs and you!

For small hard-to-pull weeds, particularly those in gravel walkways or driveways, there is a wonderful alternative to dumping harmful pesticides, chemical herbicides and overkill cleaning products into our precious earth — vinegar! Did you know that it is an effective earth-friendly herbicide?

Having used white distilled vinegar as an herbicide with great success, I am happy to have discovered this wonderful collection of tips on using vinegar in the garden.

 1. Kill weeds simply by pouring it full strength over them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.

2. Discourage cats from getting into the kids’ sandbox by pouring vinegar into the sand.

3. Stop ants from congregating by pouring white distilled vinegar on the area.

4. Neutralize garden lime by adding white distilled vinegar to the area.

5. Kill slugs by spraying them with a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part white distilled vinegar.

6. To catch moths use a mixture of 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part molasses. Place mixture in tin can and hang in a tree.

7. Keep rabbits from eating your plants. Put cotton balls soaked in white distilled vinegar in a 35mm film container. Poke a hole in the top and place in the garden.

8. Clean out stains and white mineral crusts in clay, glazed and plastic pots by soaking them for an hour or longer in a sink filled with a solution of half water and half vinegar.

9. Get rid of rust on tools and spigots by soaking the items overnight or for several days in undiluted vinegar.

10. Increase the acidity of soil by adding vinegar to your watering can.

11. Give acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias a little help by watering them with a white distilled vinegar solution now and again. A cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of tap water is a good mixture.

Cosmetic pesticides aren’t necessary to keep my garden growing well – in fact, I have been gardening for decades and never used them. Gardens need to be safe for all creatures – for our children, pets, birds, bees and all beneficial insects – and they also should be safe for the growing of food. I’m calling on all parties in British Columbia to support strong cosmetic pesticide legislation. You can too by sending an email to all parties. Let’s keep our lawns and gardens healthy and cosmetic pesticide free.

For more pesticide-free gardening tips visit Carol Pope’s blog or follow her on Twitter @carolapope. The views are Ms. Pope’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Society.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, March 26th, 2013

Email your MLA Day

by Susan Zhang, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer and SFU student


It’s Email Your MLA Day and we’re asking everyone to take a moment to let their MLA know about the issues that are important to them. It’s a reason, an extra push, to encourage everyone to get involved in a quick, easy and meaningful way.

Cancer prevention is our election priority and it’s time to get our MLAs thinking about it.

You can make a great impact on your community. Email your MLA to do your part in supporting outdoor smoke-free places and strong cosmetic pesticide legislation, two solid steps towards cancer prevention.

Why now? Well, this week is our 75th anniversary and we’ll be celebrating our fight against cancer. What better way to celebrate than to continue the fight by advocating to your MLA about cancer prevention. Reach out and get involved this election season. Add your voice to the fight.

It’s easy to find your MLA and his or her contact information, just click here!

Click here to send a message to all parties in support of the Society’s election priorities.

Advocacy, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, March 12th, 2013

Catching Big Smoke-Free Air in Whistler

by Susan Zhang, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer and SFU student.

There’s a lot to love about Whistler – amazing skiing and snowboarding, a beautiful village, scenic views, and the fact that many of Whistler’s outdoor public areas are smoke-free.


Whistler is a model community because of its smoking regulations that prohibit smoking near playgrounds, transit shelters and school property. For children and youth, this decreases unhealthy role modelling and de-normalizes smoking behaviour. As most smokers start before the age of 18, this can help to lower the number of people who pick up the habit in the future.

The bylaw, adopted in 2008, also prohibits smoking near sporting events, playing fields and other recreational areas. Patios of restaurants and bars are included in this ban too. Providing smoke-free outdoor public places decreases exposure to harmful second-hand smoke for everyone in the community. For Whistler businesses, to date there is no evidence of long-term negative impact on the tourism sector, including restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

So what about the rest of British Columbia? Currently, the province stipulates that there must be a smoke-free “buffer zone” of three metres around doorways, open windows, and air intakes. Otherwise, rules vary from municipality to municipality, as each is free to set their own bylaws.

Following the example of Whistler, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking for all political parties to support legislation for smoke-free outdoor public places across BC. This election, we hope to get the word out about the importance of making restaurant and bar patios, parks, beaches and playgrounds smoke-free places. Help us advocate for healthier communities – email BC’s party leaders to show your support.

Guest blogger, Youth, March 1st, 2013

Youth Forum is the Place to Be – Apply Today

Amber Bolu volunteers with a number of Canadian Cancer Society initiatives including Relay For Life, 2013 Provincial Election Advocacy and the Youth Forum. She’s passionate about helping others and loves being outdoors and traveling. Here’s her take on why the Youth Forum is the place to be this spring.

At 22 years old, there are too many people I know that have fought against cancer. My peers and I have all been affected and I have been desperately trying to find a silver lining. In my second year of university, I found it: 50 percent of cancers are preventable. What if half of the people diagnosed with cancer this last year, weren’t? It’s true that I am a young woman growing up in a world touched by cancer, but I am also living in a world that is full of bright innovative youth in an environment where anything can happen. The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, hopes to encourage pioneering minds to join the revolt against cancer through the Youth Forum on May 11, 2013. The Youth Forum will give young men and women a chance to fight against cancer and get others involved too.

I want to attend the Youth Forum because it will give me a chance to meet others who want to join me in the fight against cancer and who are passionate for life. I want to be a leader in cancer prevention. I want to ensure that my mother lives long enough to play with my grandchildren. I want my husband and me to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. With the voices from youth all over British Columbia all of this can be possible. For me, being a leader in cancer prevention means learning, teaching and creating a community that is willing to fight for a cancer-free future.

The passion that I have for cancer prevention stems from my belief that moms, dads, brothers, sisters and friends all have the right to live! Young men and women like me are going to be integral players in taking a stand against cancer. We will be the ones to learn, translate the knowledge and advocate for others who cannot. By applying to be a part of the youth forum, you can have the chance to be a leader in cancer prevention, share ideas with others and be a part of something that is way bigger than cancer. I know the power that we have and when we band together as a team we can be unstoppable. We hold the future is in our hands, so let’s make it cancer-free.

A cancer-free future starts with registering for the Youth Forum at

Guest blogger, Women's Health, February 22nd, 2013

Sirf Dus, Tell 10, Encourages Mammograms

by Christina Beck, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon, Health Promotion Coordinator

Sirf Dus is a Canadian Cancer Society initiative to promote mammography in the South Asian community. Sirf Dus translates to “Just tell” or “Only ten” in Punjabi. Sirf Dus asks women to:

  • Take 10 minutes of their time to talk about the importance of regular mammograms and early detection
  • Take 10 minutes to get a mammogram
  • Tell 10 friends – spread the word!

Promoting health is more than just sharing information–especially for cancer prevention in the South Asian community. The first step is to make it easier to talk about cancer in a culture where it can often be a sensitive subject. There are prevailing beliefs that one shouldn’t talk about cancer for fear of catching it and that cancer is an incurable disease resulting from bad karma. It’s no surprise that South Asian women are less likely to get a mammogram than the rest of the population.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Sirf Dus initiative was conceived to address this health disparity and to challenge the taboo nature of cancer in the South Asian community. Volunteers with various backgrounds including doctors, students, cancer survivors and South Asian community members, joined forces to develop culturally appropriate educational information about mammography and then shared it.

Sirf Dus volunteers educate with a casual approach through networks of friends, family and community peers. They reach out at cultural events and temples.

Volunteers recently combined their diverse talents to create two videos promoting mammography. They are a powerful new tool to promote early cancer detection and to reduce the number of deaths.

The “Tell ten women” video embodies efforts to educate the South Asian community in a fun and positive manner. The “Screening saves lives” video is reminiscent of Bollywood style drama. Check them out!

Advocacy, Guest blogger, National Non-Smoking Week, Tobacco, January 24th, 2013

Canadian Cancer Society calls on BC government to make patios parks and playgrounds smoke-free

by Kathryn Seely, Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon, Public Issues Director

Every year when National Non-Smoking Week comes around in January, our workforce, and the health promotion team in particular, wonder how much longer it will be before we live in a smoke-free public environment.

We can, of course, live, work and play smoke-free in our homes and yards, and even in our vehicles, but not our communities. Until that time, we look to government to protect the public and employees from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

The dangers of exposure to second-hand smoke have been well-documented with scientific evidence and there are few, if any, arguments against it. The toll in suffering and death is staggering.

Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in BC, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. Second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 British Columbians each year.

There has been progress, led in part by theCanadian Cancer Society, but our work is not finished by any means. This month, the Canadian Cancer Society, BC andYukon, is reminding our MLAs that we need regulations to ban smoking on all outdoor patios of bars and restaurants, as well as on beaches, and in parks and playgrounds.

And while, BC has the lowest percentage of smokers (14%), the incidence and death rates are consistent with the rest of Canada. We are very concerned about the numbers of women and youth who are smoking.

Eliminating smoking in public places creates a healthy environment for youth, who might be less likely to take up the habit, and encourages their parents to quit or cut back.

This year, during National Non-Smoking Week, please encourage your MLA, or the BC Health Minister, to follow the lead of 30 BC municipalities and four other provinces, and keep BC beautiful and smoke-free.

To read more of Kathryn’s blog posts, visit

Guest blogger, Men's Health, My One Thing, November 29th, 2012

Pierce Anderson’s “One Thing”

The University of Victoria Vikes are proud supporters of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Men’s and Women’s Health Awareness Initiative and we had the opportunity to chat with Pierce Anderson, one of the University of Victoria’s star varsity athletes about his “one thing”. 


Pierce, how long have you been playing varsity basketball?

This is my 5th and final year playing with the Vikes. I actually started practicing with them about 6 years ago.

Have you always had a love for basketball?

Yeah, I have been playing basketball since I was five. My father was a basketball player as well, so it has always been a part of my life.

Do you hope to stay connected to the game when you graduate?  

Yes, definitely. I plan on playing in a men’s league and I hope to get into coaching. I would also like to do some coaching with some of my younger cousins as well.

How does being a member of the UVic Vikes influence your perspective on health?  

Being an athlete really causes me to think more about my health. I am definitely more conscious about my diet and getting the right calories so that I can have energy throughout the day. I also want to make sure that I stay in shape in the off season, which is really important. 

As part of our Men’s and Women’s Health Awareness Initiative, we’re encouraging people to get a game plan to defend themselves against cancer. Making one change can make a difference. What’s the “one thing” that you will commit to doing?  

I know a couple of people undergoing treatment for melanoma skin cancer and it has definitely caused me to be more conscious about using sunscreen. I worked as a landscaper for six years and after a while I just stopped using it because I was out in the sun so much. I am definitely going to change that. 

Photo credit: Armando Tura

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Women's Health, November 29th, 2012

Kelsey Dundon’s One Thing

Kelsey Dundon is a Vancouver-based writer and founder of Northill Creative, as well as the high-profile lifestyle site The Anthology. She appears frequently on television as a trend expert and contributes to multiple publications including Vitamin Daily, where she is lifestyle editor. In this guest blog post, Kelsey shares her “one thing” and shows how to make exercise a priority – anywhere!

My one thing: exercise

I admire anyone who’s committed to the gym. Especially those keeners who manage to make it there before work. I wish the thought of pumping iron got my blood pumping, but it just doesn’t. (Don’t tell my membership card I said that.)

Still, I know I need to exercise for a million reasons – health, sanity, you name it – so I do it the way I like to do it: by getting outside. Walking my dog, jogging through Vancouver’s Endowment Lands, hiking the North Shore Mountains – these are things I can get on board with. Even in the rain.

Or while on vacation. And it doesn’t have to be a hiking trip, like the heli-hiking adventure I went on last year in the Rockies.

Or the Via Feratta I climbed in Whistler.

I’m just as happy to hike on sunny tropical vacations.

I just got back from Hawaii where I spent many a day on the trails. A highlight? Hiking through remote Waipeo Valley on the Big Island where our trail led us to this makeshift dam. Had the water not been chest deep and had we not been carrying expensive camera equipment, we would have waded through it and continued our hike. I swear.

But warm, sunny days aren’t the norm in BC this time of year. Which means it’s time to trade in my hiking boots for my snowshoes. 

When the temperature drops, snowshoeing is my favourite way to break a sweat. And this guy loves it too. He’s never been a big fan of the gym either.

Guest blogger, Men's Health, My One Thing, November 22nd, 2012

Jordan Kamprath’s “One Thing”

This week, for our Men’s and Women’s Health Awareness Initiative, we spoke with nineteen-year-old, Jordan Kamprath, Team Captain for the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, to hear about his “one thing”. Having played hockey for seventeen years, Jordan knows the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When he is not on the ice, Jordan is pursing an Exercise and Wellness Certificate at North Island College. Here is what Jordan had to say about being healthy and his “one thing”. 

You have been a hockey player for seventeen years! How has being a hockey player impacted your health?

I have to be at the top of my physical ability all the time, especially with being on the ice six days a week. I have to be physically fit. It’s quite a physically demanding sport. It’s a very active sport. You are always moving, doing on ice training, or doing off ice training. If you aren’t healthy as well, you aren’t getting the full potential of your game. Something as simple as eating an unhealthy meal before your game can make the difference between winning and losing.


 As an athlete and a student, do you ever find it difficult to balance both?

I sometimes find my body is getting pretty worn down. I have had to cancel other plans to catch up on sleep. But eating and being healthy is actually good for the body and it strengthens the body itself. I find that if I eat something like a bag of chips or I drink a pop I actually feel worse and I feel sluggish. So, eating healthy actually makes me feel better even if I feel exhausted, and a good work out makes me feel better as well.

Any words of wisdom or tips for people around your age?

It’s never too late to start. You could be nineteen, you could be fifty; it’s never too late to start being healthy and being active.

Many athletes swear by their pre-game rituals. For some it may be listening to heavy metal music on the way to the rink or taking a quick nap before the game. For others, their ritual may involve a bit of superstition – always tying one skate before the other or not allowing certain “bad luck” individuals to attend games. Do you have any pre-game rituals that you are willing to share?

Each person obviously has their own way of getting focused for the game. I have experimented and changed up my routine to find what works and even now change it up every so often. However, I always listen to a certain playlist throughout the game day, I always put my left side of equipment on first, and I always am the last one on the ice coming out of the changeroom. I also take three tums before every game, only because my nerves sometimes gets the best of me.

As part of our Men’s and Women’s Health Awareness Initiative, we’re encouraging people to get a game plan to defend themselves against cancer. Making one change can make a difference. What’s the “one thing” that you will commit to doing?

I can make a commitment to eat healthier. It’s a very controllable aspect of life. You can grab a granola bar instead of a bag of chips and you can drink water instead of a can of pop. As a hockey player I am already quite healthy, so I think healthy eating would be quite simple.



Guest blogger, Men's Health, My One Thing, November 14th, 2012

John Harrison’s “One Thing”

This week we are sharing a blog post from John Harrison, a community minded, passionate, self-professed health nut and member of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Gay Men’s Health Committee.

Statistics show that more men than women will be diagnosed with and will die of cancer. In your opinion, what can we do to change this statistic?

There is so much that men can do to reduce the incidence of cancer. Research is showing that simple things like an active and healthy lifestyle,  knowing the symptoms of common cancers and regular medical check-ups go a long way in reducing the risk of dying from cancer. 

Have you always lived such a healthy lifestyle?

I have always had a healthy lifestyle, particularly in being active and maintaining a healthy weight. In the last ten years I have focused my attention on eating lots of fruits and vegetables and dramatically reducing consumption of red meats. I no longer eat fast food and rarely eat unhealthy snacks. Currently, I am paying more attention to eating unrefined foods. I’ve realized the benefits (and great taste) of eating whole grains and organic fruits and vegetable.

What do you think is the biggest challenge or issue you see amongst your friends that prevents them from achieving the best possible health?

I think the biggest challenge for my friends (who are generally very active and don’t smoke) in achieving the best possible health is a lack of understanding about the importance of a healthy diet. Very few of my male friends eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and many regularly eat unhealthy fast foods such as burgers and fries. 

What’s the “one thing” you pledge to do this year to maintain your health?  

The one pledge I am taking this year is to eat less sweets. I love cookies, pastries and the like, but I know it’s very unhealthy regardless of the fact that I maintain a very active lifestyle and a good body mass index 

Do you have any lessons learned or words of wisdom to share with our readers?

I used to believe that people couldn’t do much to prevent many cancers because it was largely attributable to our “genetics” (and there is a lot of cancer history on my dad’s side of the family). However, I’ve noted current research that clearly indicates that a healthy lifestyle and diet can play a much bigger role in cancer prevention than has ever before been realized.

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Tanning, Women's Health, November 8th, 2012

Brooke Ostendorf’s “One Thing”

Brooke Ostendorf is a university student at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford, BC. Brooke is a member and coach of the UFV varsity cheerleading team and balances a busy class schedule on top of multiple part-time jobs. We asked Brooke how she manages to incorporate healthy living into her life and what she will do to reduce her risk of cancer.  

How did you get involved in cheerleading?

After an injury in gymnastics, I was invited to join a local cheer team and ever since then I have been hooked. I prefer the team element of cheerleading to the individual sport of gymnastics.

What is the typical day of a UFV varsity cheerleader?

The typical day in the life of a UFV team member would be to attend morning classes and then quickly grab some food and get ready to start cheer practice or go to work and then come to cheer practice.


Why is leading a healthy life so important to you?

Leading a healthy life is important to me because I want to feel comfortable with myself and feel a sense of accomplishment when I realize that I am exactly where I want to be in my cheerleading and school career. I also get a sense of satisfaction from exercising and eating healthy and this is what motivates me to continue every day.

How do you manage to fit physical activity into such a hectic schedule?

I schedule it. As a varsity athlete, I need to stay fit for my sport. Besides practicing four days per week, I schedule extra conditioning at the gym and remember to give myself a break every Monday!

What are your favourite tips for eating healthy on the go?

The key to eating healthy on the go is planning ahead. I pack a lunch when I go to school – it’s healthier and cheaper! A sandwich and an apple to eat between classes and I carry a water bottle that can be refilled. When eating on campus I choose healthier options such as Booster Juice, Jugo Juice or Subway. I do not eat fast food.

This fall, we are asking British Columbias to do “one thing” towards reducing their cancer risk.  What’s your “one thing”?

My one thing would be to properly apply sunscreen and not to ‘fake n’ bake’. This summer I spent a lot of time at Cultus Lake and while I always applied sunscreen, I missed spots and got burned, so I want to better protect my skin.