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A Conversation
on Prevention

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 14th, 2013

Tanning is Out Highlights

The results are in! The Tanning is Out Challenge was a huge success for high schools with more than 8,000 students in BC pledging to stay tan-free! Students promoted sun safety and busted some dangerous myths regarding tanning. They planned activities asking their peers to take the tan-free pledge and avoid deliberate tanning both indoors and outdoors. 

Photo Challenge:

Students also took part in weekly photo challenges. Each school was encouraged to submit a photo to TIO Facebook. The school with the funniest and most creative photo of the week was eligible for an extra per cent added to their total pledge numbers giving them an advantage to potentially win the overall challenge. We saw creative shine and I’ve never seen competition this fierce!

What are students saying about the photo challenge?

“It was a good way to get the word out and it was creative.”

“It was fun! I was able to participate with my friends.”

“Everyone got a chance to be whacky.”

Successes and Inspiration:


Tanning is Out Leaders from the Greater Vancouver Area at Windermere Community School hosted themes like “Jers-day” where students encouraged their peers to dress up like their favourite, and extremely artificially tanned, Jersey Shore characters while promoting the TIO Challenge and what not to look like. With their Photo Challenge submissions, Windermere came out on top with 100.5% of grade 12’s pledging to be tan-free. Awesome job guys! 

On Vancouver Island the winning school, Oak Bay High generously decided to donate their prize money towards Relay for Life. This inspirational group of students have helped advance the work of the Canadian Cancer Society in so many ways. Truly amazing!

In the Fraser Valley Region, Tamanawis Secondary TIO Student Leaders showed the “What if” video and provided presentations to all Gr. 10 classes in the school. They focused on the fact that skin cancer doesn’t discriminate and that people of all skin types must practice sun sense.

In the Northern Region, Williams Lake Secondary TIO Leaders engaged the cooking class to bake cakes frosted with orange TIO designs which they shared when students pledged.

In the Southern Interior Region students from grades 6-12 took the tan-free pledge. The TIO initiative at Kelowna Christian School was a feature story on Global BC in the Okanagan.

Personal reflection: 

As a former student volunteer and continuing TIO volunteer, it has been wonderful journey to work on this initiative with high school students. It’s an amazing feeling to walk out of a high school knowing that you’ve changed the way someone evaluates how unnecessary and dangerous tanning is. The message behind this campaign has really resonated with me over the years. It has constantly reminded me that true beauty isn’t what you can do to change your skin but learning to embrace all the parts that make you who you are.

For a more in depth explanation about Tanning is Out, click here.

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

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?

Cosmetic Pesticides, Tanning, Tobacco, Youth, May 31st, 2013

75 Leaders on our 75th Anniversary

We brought together 75 young leaders for our 75th Anniversary to talk cancer prevention at the Youth Leadership Forum. We believe that youth are an important part of stopping cancer before it starts by living well, being aware and getting involved in advocacy for healthy public policy. We asked some of the youth about their experiences at this inspiring event.

What was your favourite part of the youth forum?

“My favorite part of the youth forum was the opportunity to meet people from around British Columbia who share the same ideas and passions as I do. I’ve never really had the opportunity to meet such like-minded people in an environment geared towards thinking about change, and the potential we have as young adults to make it. It was amazing to hear all of the speakers who took the time to present to us and give us an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves and let us think about what we can do to help.”
Steven Brown, Delta

What inspired you most at the youth forum?

 “I felt the good vibes. The fact that it seemed like everyone had one agenda and one goal in mind, meeting and sharing ideas made it that much easier.”
Jessica  Chow, PG

“The fact that other youth were so excited and ready to join forces to improve their communities across BC. Everyone seemed committed even though we had only been working together for a day or so. “
Danielle Lawless, New Westminster

How can youth make a positive impact on their community?

“The youth forum put on by the Canadian Cancer Society has been an incredible opportunity that opened my eyes to the world around me, and made me more aware of the opportunity that exists. Opportunities don’t always present themselves when we’re not looking for them, so sometimes it takes a little push in the right direction to make a world of difference. I believe that the youth forum has done that for me.”
Steven Brown, Delta

“Youth have an interesting connection with those in their communities. They are role models for the next generation and are looked at with hope from the older generations. I think youth are also more optimistic and willing of change. We’ve also seen how social norms have changed in our parents generation (such as smoking) we’ve seen success in the reduction of that, which gives us hope and drive to change other things in our society.”
Danielle Lawless, New Westminster

What cancer prevention activity have you committed to when you return to your community?

“I am committed to raising awareness about cancer prevention in my community, and motivating others to volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society”
Taylor Smith, Kelowna

“It was pretty neat to be a part of the prevention aspect of the Society! It’s something I am definitely interested in pursuing. I am constantly amazed at the awesome work that the Society does, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to be apart of the forum. I’ve been looking into my local community’s stand on the outdoor smoking bylaw as well as the use of pesticides. Before the forum, I was aware of these initiatives, but I never really connected them to my own city. It’s a concrete issue in my head now…”
Danielle Lawless, New Westminster

“I will remain committed to educating people about the dangers of using indoor tanning beds and exposure to UV light. I will also continue to help bring cancer issues to political leaders’ attention.”
Haylee Seiter, Prince George

How did other youth feel after the Forum?

“Inspiration”, “motivation”, “empowerment”, “connection” — are just a few words that resonated on this day. To see them all, visit the Urban Thinkers blog by Arthur Orsini.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, My One Thing, Provincial Election, Tanning, Tobacco, Youth, May 24th, 2013

If you had an opportunity to stop cancer in its tracks, would you?

On May 11, 2013, the Canadian Cancer Society brought together 75 young leaders across BC for our first ever Youth Forum on cancer prevention in Vancouver. The weekend was filled with good laughs, great ideas and inspirational conversations.

The Society – celebrating 75 years of fighting cancer – invited community-minded youth to take a stand against cancer, and they answered. The 75 young leaders between the ages of 19 and 25 participated in the day-long Forum to discuss what healthy communities look like and how to get involved. There were opportunities to learn, share and network to see a broader vision for global change.

Designed by youth, for youth, the Forum kicked off with a photo scavenger hunt featuring cancer prevention themes. Keynote speaker, Richard Loat, Founder of Five Hole for Food, challenged youth to chase their dreams and not let the fear of “no” get in their way.

Richard was one of several inspirational speakers that day. Ashleigh Wilson, a young cancer survivor, shared her story of cancer ‘thrivership’, Director of Vision and Goals from lululemon athletica, Chloe Gow-Jarrett taught goal-setting skills, and the Canadian Cancer Society’s own Vice President of Cancer Control, Cathy Adair, shared some insight on cancer prevention and progress over the last 75 years.

After some informative and motivating sessions on influencing public policy, tobacco control and indoor tanning, the energetic youth had a chance to exchange their ideas and set the wheels in motion for cancer prevention in their own communities.

We know that about half of all cancers can be prevented by living well, being aware and getting involved in public policy. Stopping cancer before it starts is an important part of realizing the Society’s vision of a world where nobody fears cancer – and youth are a vital part of that solution.

We know that these young leaders will be fantastic ambassadors for healthy change in their communities, setting the stage for the next 75 years of cancer prevention.

Check out more photos from the Youth Forum on our Facebook page.

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 25th, 2013

Personal Reflection on Tanning is Out

By Jen

I personally thought Tanning is Out was a rewarding experience and was definitely one of the highlights of my grad year. As you may recall, I wrote a post last year about my experience at Windermere Secondary’s TIO.  The best part of this event was just experiencing the change in perception from my peers. Whether it be releasing some of the pressures to look “bronzed”, or helping break some myths about a “healthy” tan (which is totally not healthy at all), the TIO challenge definitely broke some barriers between what we would like to believe and what we really should know. 

Jennifer Wu (far right) with Windermere student leaders encouraging students to take the tan-free pledge last year.

This year I continue my journey with the TIO team as a Challenge Leader with Windermere. The best part hasn’t changed much. I still love coming into the schools for their events and seeing what an impact pledge week has on the entire school. It’s definitely been a team effort and the most rewarding part is just watching the slow change in perception in regards to what “embracing/owning your own skin tone” really means! 

The initiative shines a lot of light on an often misinformed subject in our society today. With the media showing us that “bronze is the new beautiful/healthy/sexy” it becomes increasingly difficult to shy away from those images and remind ourselves that we are good enough and we don’t need to alter our exterior to fit a mold.

Fact: Having a tan is unhealthy. When your skin colour changes, it’s damaged and can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

What are your thoughts on the look of a tan? Leave me a comment in the box below!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 8th, 2013

Tanning is Totally Out

By Jen

Spring has finally come into full force with more sun and definitely more fun! With the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Tanning is Out Challenge in high gear, high schools all across BC are taking part in this fun challenge.

So what exactly is the “Tanning is Out Challenge” all about?

Well the name says it all! High schools across BC host one week full of themed days promoting sun safety while educating students that no tan is a safe tan. The goal is to collect pledges from students to encourage them to avoid tanning indoors and outdoors before the end of school (and the rest of their lives!). The school with the highest percentage of pledges would then be able to bask in all their tan free glory.

FACT: There is no safe way to get a tan. Some tanning beds can expose people up to 5 times more radiation than the sun.

The creative forces behind TIO

A little healthy competition among schools has fueled student commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. Believe me, hosting a TIO pledge week definitely requires creativity and A LOT of team work!

On Vancouver Island, Carihi Secondary has gone the lengths of canvassing their local grocery chain to get donations for a TIO Challenge tail gate party where they also promoted the cause.  The profit generated from the party was then donated to the TIO Challenge leader’s Relay for Life team.

In the Greater Vancouver Region, a number of schools are getting creative. Argyle Secondary’s “Anti-Orange Day” in which they handed out oranges with the logo “orange is a snack, not a skin tone” was a huge hit! Handsworth Secondary hosted karaoke and a Zumba work out session to promote healthy life choices and spread the TIO message.

There are still a number of schools in the midst of their pledge weeks. The anticipation of the upcoming pledge count is nearing and schools are on their toes waiting for their results. It is important to mention that the TIO challenge would not be able to spread its message the way it has without the commitment and hard work of schools across BC! 

Stay tuned for a final update on schools across the province!

Until next time, Jennifer Wu

Tanning, February 4th, 2013

World Cancer Day: Dispelling Tanning Myths

World Cancer Day 2013 is today, February 4th. The focus of this year’s World Cancer Day is Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer.

World Cancer Day is a chance to raise awareness and dispel some of the myths about cancer.

There are many myths and misconceptions about skin cancer and tanning – both indoors and outdoors – and you should know the truth. Today, we are going to debunk some of these myths.

Myth: Having a tan is healthy.

Truth: No tan is a safe tan. When your skin colour changes, it’s damaged and that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

Myth: My tan protects me from the sun.

Truth: A tan offers almost no protection from sunlight or burning. Some tanning beds can expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun. Getting a tan from a tanning bed doesn’t protect you from the sun – it does more harm than the sun. Use sunscreen to protect yourself instead.

Myth: I’ll get my vitamin D by going to the tanning salon.

Truth: Tanning beds are not a safe way to get your vitamin D. It is safer to get it from the sun, supplements and your diet. In the fall and winter, a supplement is a much safer and cheaper way to get your vitamin D.

Myth: Tanning in moderation does not cause cancer, only sunburns can cause cancer.

Truth: Burning is only one risk factor for developing skin cancers. Exposure to UV radiation without burning is also responsible for DNA damage, thereby increasing a person’s cancer risk.

We encourage you to dispel these myths throughout your social networks. Include the hashtag #TanningisOut in your tweets and like Tanning is Out on Facebook.

For more information on World Cancer day, visit

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.

Guest blogger, Survivor, Tanning, Women's Health, Youth, August 23rd, 2012

Don’t Shorten Your Life For A Tan

By Jessica Van Wageningen

At the age of twenty-four, Jessica Van Wageningen from North Vancouver, B.C., was diagnosed with melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer. As a former indoor tanner, Jessica is now hoping her story will inspire others to embrace their natural skin tone and not the tanning bed. She doesn’t let skin cancer define her and she is ready to move past this experience, with a new outlook on life.

It was the moment I heard I had melanoma that my life changed. I realized life is short, so I shouldn’t take anything for granted. I think I took my health for granted when it came to tanning and if I could go back and undo all the indoor tanning that I did, I would in a heartbeat. 

Just days after my twenty-fourth birthday, my mom finally convinced me to get a small mole on my left side removed. I thought her concerns about my mole were crazy, but I went to have it looked at one Monday afternoon to put her at ease. My mole was the size of the top of a pencil easer, with irregular edges, and as dark as dark chocolate. The doctor that removed it believed I had nothing to worry about but took precautions to be one hundred percent sure by removing it.

I am thankful the doctor was aggressive and took it off right then and there. I received a call four days after my mole was removed from my doctor’s office and they asked me to come in, as my results were ready. I sat down and the first words that came out of the doctor’s mouth were, “You have melanoma skin cancer.” I sat there in shock, as tears streamed down my face. I asked the doctor if I was going to live and she said she didn’t know. It was the scariest feeling to hear that my own doctor was not sure whether I would have my life back.

I asked myself, “Why me? Why anyone?”

A week after finding out I had melanoma, I went to the hospital and a plastic surgeon removed more tissue to make sure all the melanoma had been cut out. It was a painful recovery for the next few days after the surgery as my muscle was bruised from digging so deep into my tissue. I received the results for the tissue biopsy and the melanoma was not in the tissue. It was the happiest day of my life.

I was in an early stage of melanoma and early detection is the key to catching it.  Melanoma is an aggressive cancer and it grows quickly. I am a lucky girl, but some people aren’t so lucky and melanoma takes many lives each year. I wish I knew back then, when I loved tanning, what I know today.

I went indoor tanning twenty-two days in a row before grad and continued throughout the last seven years. I want people to know, whether they are a teenager, a young adult or older, how incredibly scary tanning beds are. Melanoma can happen to anyone. I never believed it would happen to me.  

The steps to protect yourself are so easy! Don’t do indoor tanning, wear sunscreen, seek shade when you can, and get your skin checked! Love yourself for who you are and embrace being your natural skin tone – you are beautiful when you do. Don’t shorten your life for a ‘healthy glow or a base tan.’ No tan is a healthy tan. 

Now cancer-free, Jessica shows her scar from where the melanoma was removed.

Read Jessica’s Letter to Editor of the North Shore News – Grads: Tanning not worth your life.

Guest blogger, Survivor, Tanning, Women's Health, Youth, August 17th, 2012

Fa-shun-able Me

by Sarah Merrill

Since my last post there are a few things I would like to clarify. I know suggesting forgoing a tan for some equates social suicide, you might as well “put your head between your legs and kiss your butt goodbye”. I understand, but please realize it took a bout of skin cancer for me to even think about changing my ways. In fact, one month after being cancer-free I spent days lying in the California sun (applying sunscreen every two hours of course and making sure I did not burn…). Although I was consciously applying sunscreen I also kept checking my tan lines to see if – by chance – I’d achieved a little color. Yup, one month after skin cancer I still managed to justify baking in the sun. Really there is no difference between you and I, I’m just one of the ones who got caught.  I did not share my story expecting you to drop everything and stop tanning. It’s a process, a process that can only happen if YOU want to make it happen. Having skin cancer forced me to get creative, unfortunately I can’t reverse the damage done, but I can take precautions so it will not happen again.

It’s about making little tweaks here and there; sun protection does not have to be a daunting task. Last summer, I set a goal to remain sunburn-free through the scorching months and I achieved it! This summer I upped the anti and decided to make adjustments to my daily routine and wardrobe. Instead of adding to my already abundant collection of short-shorts and sleeveless numbers, I purchased feminine maxi skirts, breezy cover-ups, a wide brimmed hat and I’m slowly replacing my cosmetics with products containing SPF.

However, my enthusiasm is not shared by everyone. Since incorporating sun safe changes I’ve received the following comments: “Why don’t you wear clothes that fit?”, “Show some skin” and my favourite “You look like a 60 year-old grandma”. Moral of the story, people are not down with my new digs, but I find consolation in the fact that my grandma is one sexy old lady, so whatever.

Ladies I know sunscreen can be greasy, ruins your makeup, and is just an overall hassle, but there’s a solution! Try a 30 SPF powder foundation! They do exist. And despite my earlier quip, it is possible to protect yourself from the sun and look good while doing so! (At least I think I pull it off…) If you choose to embrace your natural skin tone there are ways to showcase it. If not, there are methods to fake it till you make it!

Guys, it’s your turn. Sunscreen can be a royal pain in the butt, yet going without it ain’t worth it! Wear sunglasses, a hat, and try a spray sunscreen. It’s a quick application method, so quick you won’t miss a second of the beach action.

YOU can minimize your risk of skin cancer (melanoma is one of the most deadly & common diseases in young people ages 15-29, but it is mostly preventable!) by taking note of these alternative tips and tricks. I look at it as a special you treatment all summer long. You’re worth it! Summer is coming to a close, but start the process by thinking about what little change(s) you might incorporate into your routine next summer. I risked my life in the name of beauty once, and I don’t plan on doing it again, even if it means being fa-shun-able.  For now, I’ll take 21 dressing like 60 over skin cancer any day.

Sarah Merrill is a volunteer blogger for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out initiative.

Guest blogger, Survivor, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Women's Health, July 23rd, 2012

I’d hate to be Frank

By Sarah Merrill

Sarah Merrill is a volunteer blogger for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tanning is Out initiative. She is also a skin cancer survivor. In her latest post, she shares her story.

A few years ago I remember reading a magazine article about a girl in her twenties who after excessive tanning was diagnosed with skin cancer. The spread contrasted photos of her tanned with pictures of her embracing her natural skin tone.  In the moment the story resonated, but I got up, put the magazine down and walked away.  It would never happen to me.

I have always been a health conscious individual; I exercise regularly and eat healthy because I was taught to treat my body with respect. I wore sunscreen most of the time, but my lily-white skin didn’t mix well with the Saskatchewan sun. My love for outdoor sports seemed to make at least one major sunburn  inevitable each summer. When it came to indoor tanning I was apprehensive, but at age 16 I tanned to get a “good base tan” for Mexico. A year or so later I tanned a couple of times before a friends prom, and one last time for my own prom. I did not want to be orange like the girls who graduated before me; I just wanted that “healthy glow”. I debated a spray tan, but it didn’t fit my high school budget and I’d have to travel to find a salon that offered spray tan services. Sadly, I didn’t know going in a tanning bed for ANY AMOUNT OF TIME before the age of 35 can increase one’s risk of skin cancer by 75%.

Somewhere along the line, a mole on my knee morphed from the small brown beauty mark it once was to a funky-looking pink aberration. I went to my doctor to get the mole removed – simply because it was unattractive – but he considered excision of the mole cosmetic and sent me on my way. By grade 12 the mole grew bigger, was getting more attention, and thus became worthy of a name – Frank. How the name came about, I cannot recall but it stuck. Frank was a creepy little guy, so unpleasant looking my peers suggested I wear band-aids over him and pretend it was a cut.

That fall, I moved to Calgary for university and the following short-shorts worthy summer brought Frank to my attention, for a second time. He was a little more red, a lot more raised, and rather round. With more determination than last time I went to a few doctors, but the results were the same; one doctor offered to freeze Frank off and the rest said, “It is nothing”. Finally, after pulling some strings, I got an appointment in Saskatchewan and drove home specifically to have the mole removed. Both the doctor and the surgeon who removed Frank said, “It is nothing,” and that they were only sending Frank in as mandatory procedure. I watched them plop Frank in a little container thinking a tiny little scar would be all I had to remember him by. Good riddance!

Wrong. Frank actually had a family and they had moved in. It turns out “nothing” was stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma. Fortunately, the process for me was short; I was diagnosed around Thanksgiving in 2010, went in for surgery on December 16, and was announced cancer-free freshly into the New Year. Even though I have the battle wounds to prove it, a scar on my knee (initial incision) and upper thigh (lymph node removal), the seriousness of the situation did not sink in until recently when I heard about Glenna Kohl. At age 26 after excessive tanning both indoors and outdoors, and a misdiagnosis, stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma took Glenna’s life. As I read her story, it finally hit me that it’s a miracle my cancer had not spread since stage 3 invasive malignant melanoma generally means the cancer has gone beyond the skin and traveled throughout the body to the lymph nodes.

If you are reading this you’re probably feeling the same way I did years ago sitting in the doctors office, but please don’t walk away thinking, “It will never happen to me,” like I did. I encourage you to discuss Frank to your friends, family, or anyone who will listen – tweet it, Facebook it, or get old school and just talk about it – tanning is not worth the risk. Make little changes in your life (I’m not saying don’t go outside, just be careful when you do). Know your skin, watch for signs of change and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, July 13th, 2012

Sunscreen: how to choose and how to use

Summer is here and along with that comes sunscreen! Wearing sunscreen helps protect your skin by blocking the sun’s damaging rays. Knowing what sunscreen to choose and how to use it will help you protect your skin.

How to choose sunscreen

• Sunscreens are available with a sun protection factor (SPF) ranging from 2 to at least 100.

• Use an SPF of 15 or higher, and if you work outdoors or are planning to be outside most of the day, use an SPF 30.

• Make sure the product offers both UVA and UVB protection (usually labelled “broad-spectrum”). All sunscreens allow some UV rays to penetrate your skin, but broad spectrum will give you the best protection.

• If you’re in the water, make sure your sunscreen is water-resistant.

• If you aren’t sure what sunscreen is right for you talk to your pharmacist.

How to use sunscreen

• Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go out to allow the active ingredients to soak into your skin. Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck and any bald spots.

• Don’t forget your lips – they need protection too. Use an SPF 15 sunscreen lip balm and reapply when needed.

• Reapplication, reapplication, reapplication! Follow the instructions for reapplying your sunscreen, especially after swimming or sweating.

• Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days and during the winter months.

• Shop around. Try different sunscreens until you find one that works best for you.

Don’t be fooled by a high SPF – sunscreen on its own doesn’t offer complete protection from sun damage. Be sure to use it along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them! Use sunscreen as your backup plan in sun protection. The sun is at its strongest between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can, plan your outdoor activities before or after this time. Before you head out for the day, know the UV forecast for your community. When the UV index is above 3, take precautions.

This summer, choose your sunscreen wisely and enjoy the sun safely! For more information on sun and UV visit the Canadian Cancer Society BCY.

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Women's Health, Youth, June 28th, 2012

Keep it real.

By Brittney Parks

Summer is here and the pressure to rock your beach-ready body and flawless tan is on. Unfortunately, this is one of the pressures some women face throughout their adolescent lives and into their young adult years. A new social media campaign aims to change this – the Keep it Real Challenge.

SPARK Movement,,, Endangered Bodies and I Am That Girl are joining forces to host the Keep it Real Challenge, a three-day social media campaign to urge print magazines to pledge to print at least one non-photoshopped image of female models per issue.

This movement started with just one individual – 14-year-old Julia Bluhm. Julia started a petition to get Seventeen Magazine to include one non-photoshopped image in every issue. She has successfully collected over 80,000 petitions and counting!
Her one-person campaign has snowballed into a much larger movement.

The Keep it Real Challenge, which runs from June 27th to June 29th, is empowering girls and young women to challenge unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

Throughout our Tanning is Out initiative, we encourage young women and men to not outdoor or indoor tan and to own their own skin tone. When speaking with young women, they often bring up the pressures to tan resulting from the media – the image of a tall, tanned, skinny woman. While it may seem beautiful in a magazine, in reality, it is an image that many young women struggle with as they strive to live up to this notion of perceived beauty. They should not have to face these pressures – they should feel empowered to embrace their own skin tone and natural beauty.

The Tanning is Out initiative is breaking down some of the barriers faced in terms of beauty; however, our work is not done yet.

Today, we are participating in the Keep It Real Challenge by sharing our voice, through our blog. We are encouraging others to do the same. Please note - this campaign does not apply just to women – it is an opportunity for guys to also get involved and let magazines know how they feel about the use of photoshopped images and unrealistic expectations about appearance.

Day 1 (June 27th): Use the #KeepitReal on Twitter to challenge magazines to drop photoshop.

Day 2 (June 28th): Use your blog to share your voice and tell the world why photoshop needs to go. 

Day 3 (June 29th): Post images of real beauty via your Instagram account and be entered into the #KeepItRealChallenge, with selected photos being shown on a billboard in New York City.

We are continuously inspired by the youth we work with throughout the Tanning is Out initiative and their commitment to natural beauty and keeping it real by being tan-free.

Tanning is Out Ambassadors presented to the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island in support of a bylaw prohibiting those under 18 from indoor tanning.

Young women standing up for real beauty!

For more information, check out the Keep It Real Challenge Toolkit. Here is a photo worth sharing.


Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 1st, 2012

Last minute details for prom

by Jen

For some of you grads out there, Prom Season has gotten you in stress mode while finding the ‘perfect’ outfit that will leave your peers in awe. Refer to my older posts on dress and make-up tips –  Helpful Tips for Grad Pics.

When you are finalizing the last minute details for prom, take into consideration some of these suggestions to make the most of your night.

A struggle between beauty and comfort… has met its answer!

TIP: You are more likely to re-wear your prom heels compared to your dress, so it’s okay to splurge on those shoes you’ve been eyeing!

Make sure you find shoes that are comfortable and tolerable. It’s your big night and you’ll probably spend the majority of it on your feet dancing away or running around taking pictures. I’m sure you don’t want to spend your big night walking around barefoot or clenching your teeth because of painful heels!

Wedges are a great alternative to those high-rise heels. While still giving you height, they spread your weight evenly so that there are no pressure points.  If your dress is long, your shoes will hardly show, so if wedges don’t really suit your style, you can still pull them off!

Tip: Gel insoles for heels are a great way to reduce the pressure points and stiffness of the heel. Translation? Heels are more tolerable with less pain and going barefoot isn’t an option! Many platforms tend to have very weak traction at the bottom of the shoe, creating a higher chance of you slipping.  By inserting heel grips at the bottom of your platforms, you decrease the chances of a slipping incident!

Cheaper alternatives to pricey costs

Want to get your hair and nails done prior to prom? Salons can get expensive for that one-time-do. Instead of paying someone to curl your hair and paint your nails, get your girlfriends to help you out. Get a bunch of friends to come over and do each other’s hair and nails. There are hundreds of DIY tutorials on YouTube to teach you how to prep for prom. It’s free and fun – it can’t get any better than that!

Prom accessories

Tip: Think of your dress as the spotlight of the show and everything else is meant to enhance the look of the dress, not outshine it!

This floral charm necklace goes great with a black or white dress. The colour block multi-chained necklace is subtle enough to rock without over doing it.

When it comes to the colour of your dress and the accessories you choose, pastel and bolder colours tend to go great with simple jewelry pieces, because they’re already quite loud. Whereas cream coloured, white or black dresses go great with bold coloured statement pieces such as teal, red or sequins. Stacking some awesome bangles is another great option.

If your dress is quite simple, you can’t go wrong with a fringe necklace.

I want to acknowledge the schools across B.C. that have joined the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tan Free Grad Challenge! Over 6,000 students across the province have pledged to not indoor or outdoor tan prior to prom. You guys are awesome and lead a great example for embracing and OWNING your natural skin tone! Visit Cancer Game Plan for more info on the Tan Free Grad.

I wish everyone a happy prom. Though one chapter in life has just ended, many more are to come. So please have fun and be safe!

Until next time,


Photos: Prom Images (Canadian Cancer Society);  Black Wedge, Blue Wedge, Pink Wedge; Floral Charm Necklace; Multi-Chain Necklace; Bead Fringe; Blue Fringe

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 23rd, 2012

Tan Free Grad

by Jen

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the BC Government has recently announced that they plan to ban the use of indoor tanning for youth under 18. How cool is that?!

Now on to Tan Free Grad…

In preparation for the prom fiasco, Windermere Community School has participated, alongside other schools across the province, in its first ever Tan Free Grad!

So what exactly IS Tan Free Grad?

It involves a group/committee of students that plan and carry-out the Tan Free Grad initiative at their school. The goal is to collect pledges from grads promising that they won’t tan indoors or outdoors for prom. At Windermere, for one week we had a different theme every day that would educate students and raise awareness about the dangers of UV radiation and the precautions that can be taken.

Goal: When I had initially heard about the Tan Free Grad I was excited to get involved because I knew that many students at my school were contemplating indoor tanning for prom. I know that there had to be a way to educate people without coming off as ‘in their face’ or judgmental.

Tan Free Grad was one of the best experiences of my senior year and a great way to get students and the grad committee involved in something that could save lives and educate youth on the misconceptions about tanned skin.

The committee and I wanted to eradicate the portrayal of tanned skin as “beautiful” or “desirable”. After exposing the student body to the facts and dangers about indoor tanning, many were on board with our anti-tanning movement.

Everything starts with a willingness to try – I’m glad that I was a part of such a great and supportive team of grads that shared a similar interest in reaching out to youth regarding the dangers of tanning.

I encourage students to take on this challenge in your school and see the difference you’re able to make!

Conclusion: Windermere came out strong with 98% of the grad class pledging NOT to tan! The highest percentage in the Greater Vancouver Region!

For more information on how you can participate or lead a Tan Free Grad at your school visit Cancer Game Plan!

Until next time,

XOXOX Jennifer Wu

Collecting Pledges for the Tan Free Grad

Windermere Tan Free Grad Leaders

Orange is a fruit, not a skin tone!

Guest blogger, Tanning, Youth, March 27th, 2012

Stars speak out about tanning

by Diyyinah Jamora, Guest Blogger

Do you follow every celebrity on Twitter? Are you a faithful Hollywood gossip magazine reader? Have you seen the majority of entertainment news segments? Are you a Belieber, Jasminator, Lovatic, Little Monster, or Directioner? Guilty. If any of the aforementioned describes you or someone you know, it’s easy to see how celebrities are usually the #1 trendsetters when it comes to fashion, beauty, and even health!
Here are a few celebrities that have spoken about tanning:

1. Miranda Cosgrove, Gabrielle Union, and Jennifer Garner

iCarly actress Miranda Cosgrove, 18, is an advocate for Neutrogena’s sun safety campaign to raise awareness among teens about the dangers of tanning. “I don’t think teens realize the consequences associated with tanning,” said Miranda. “It’s important for me to help people my age realize that tanning can be dangerous and, in the long run, not worth a winter tan.” Miranda’s fellow Neutrogena spokesmodels American actresses Gabrielle Union and Jennifer Garner also advocate for sun safety.

2. Lindsay Lohan

Back in 2009, Lindsay Lohan said, “As much as I love the sun, it is so bad for your skin,” during the launch of her Sevin Nyne spray tan line. The Italian-Irish 25 year-old Mean Girls actress opts for spray tanning rather than tanning beds or sun tanning to get a bronze glow. See? You really can achieve the same look without UV rays damaging your skin! But wait, there’s more! If you’ve been keeping up with LiLo news, she’s been rocking her natural look as shown in the photograph above.

3. Lauren Conrad

Not only is Lauren Conrad, 26, a TV personality, fashion designer, and published author, she is a regular blogger as well! Last June she wrote a blog post, giving this piece of advice: “skip the tanning bed and protect your skin.” The post, entitled “Be Smart: Dear 16-Year-Old Me”, includes the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund’s “Dear 16-year-old Me” video, sharing stories of people personally affected by melanoma advising 16 year-olds to be safe about sun exposure. Being 16 years-old myself and putting a person to the stats about melanoma, the video resonated strongly with me. Lauren also wrote her own set of sun safety tips. You can also check out the Canadian Cancer Society’s own sun safety page for more tips!

The stars have spoken! What do you think?

Photo Credits: Miranda Cosgrove (J-14);Lindsay Lohan (Getty Images); Lauren Conrad (Getty Images)

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, March 16th, 2012

Youth Speak Out: Tanning Edition [video]

by Jen

Nowadays there’s so much from the media about the idea of unnaturally tanned skin. It’s being portrayed as “beautiful” and thus desirable, but the media fails to address the dangerous health risks and long-term consequences of tanning.

I think we can all agree that the last thing any of us needs is more pressure and unrealistic expectations to follow. Keep in mind that nothing is more beautiful than being confident in your own skin. True beauty comes from within and should never be defined by your skin tone. Never allow the media’s perception of unnatural tanned skin be your definition of beauty.

Here is a video that I made in which I asked various students from Windermere Secondary what their thoughts are about tanning.

The truth is, tanning is unsafe and the consequences of over exposure to UV rays can be deadly. Starting today, I challenge you to take the initiative to protect and embrace your skin!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Guest blogger, Tanning, Women's Health, Youth, March 1st, 2012

Interview with Julia Murray

By Julia Zhou, Guest Blogger

Julia Murray is an athlete, Olympian and advocate for skin cancer prevention. Both her parents were members of the Canadian National Ski team, which led to her passion in skiing. She is currently a member of the Canadian National Ski Cross Team and was a silver medalist in the FIS Freestyle World Championships last year. Julia feels strongly about cancer prevention as her father passed away from melanoma. Today, she shares her experience as a professional athlete and as an advocate for skin cancer prevention.

Julia Murray, FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships

As a professional athlete, you probably spend a lot of time training and practicing – how do you balance your personal life and your profession?

Life is definitely busy! But I like it that way. I always love to be on the go. I enjoy training for my sport, going to school, and spending time with family and friends – so I always make an effort to make time for it all.

Did you always know that you would become a professional skier? Did you have any other dreams before? If so, how did it change?

I have been skiing since the age of two, then ski raced until the age of seventeen, before switching to ski cross. With my mother being a professional freestyle skier in the 70’s along with my Dad’s background of being one of the four Crazy Canuck Downhill ski racers in the 70’s, skiing is definitely in my blood! I grew up in a town of people who love the mountains, and skied on average three or four days a week – and our school supported that! As early as grade 4, I was presenting projects to my teachers about the Olympics in our backyard, with me racing down my Dad’s downhill (Dave Murray Downhill).

As a professional athlete you are very physically active – what are some other ways you maintain good health?

In the summer, I do a lot of biking (mountain, road and dirt biking), along with a lot of time in the gym. In the winter, I’ve been skate skiing a lot and going to yoga, as well as biking in the city!

The sun’s rays can be very strong on the hill and in winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.  What are some ways you stay protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays?

I wear sunscreen every day I’m on the mountain. I make it a part of my routine in the morning, to put sunscreen on before breakfast. I then reapply once a day while I’m up there. I always keep my goggles down to protect my eyes too.

You are working to help raise awareness about the importance of wearing sunscreen in the winter. Why is this important to you?

My father passed away when he was 39 years old (I was two) from malignant melanoma. I really want to help make people aware of how dangerous the sun’s rays are and prevent melanoma from taking the lives of others.

Indoor tanning is an important priority for the Canadian Cancer Society. How do you feel about indoor tanning?

Indoor tanning is so bad for you. It increases your chances drastically of developing skin cancer. Stay away from them! Enjoy your own beautiful, natural skin colour!

What would you advise to the teens out there that might also wish to become a professional athlete someday?

If you have a dream – keep taking the little steps towards achieving it – because you will! And you’ll look back at your hard work and accomplishments and learn from them and be so proud of your self for putting all those hours and sweat into it!

Photo: Julia Murray, FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships

TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, February 1st, 2012

Adele Green’s Experiences as a Youth Advocate

By Brittney Parks

Do you fight back?

Victoria B.C.’s 19 year-old Adele Green has been fighting back against cancer and fighting for the future of youth for the past six years. As a Grade 9 student at Oak Bay High School in Victoria, Adele became a member of the Youth Against Cancer club. In Grade 11 and 12 as the club chair, she got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. & Yukon, as a fundraiser, an educator and an advocate.

Currently in her secondary year of studies in the School of Health Information Sciences at the University of Victoria (UVIC), Adele is still fight back against cancer. Youth Against Cancer is now a UVIC club with over 130 members, fundraising on campus and partnering with on-campus events, supporting with their volunteer force and adding prevention and awareness.

Adele was one of the youth that played an instrumental role in the passing of the Capital Regional District’s Tanning Regulation Bylaw (No. 3711).

Adele shared her experience as a youth advocate with me.

Youth Against Cancer

How did you get involved with advocacy?

In my last few months in Grade 12, Youth Against Cancer ended up doing a few information sessions on indoor tanning at my high school and it moved into the start of the Capital Regional District public consultations about indoor tanning. Nancy (Health Promotion Coordinator with the Society) had us come out to them and ever since then we have been involved in the whole process.

Why is advocacy important to you?

Last year was really a learning year for me as a university student. I had the opportunity to learn about the impacts of policy and advocacy fit really well into what I was studying. Advocacy allowed me to see the results of what I was putting in through volunteering.

What are some characteristics that youth should have if they want to take on the challenge of advocacy?

At first it was hard to stand up for what you believe in. When you hear the other side you start to doubt yourself, so having self-confidence is important. Also, having the ability to stick up to your friends about the issue is important. It is my age group that we are trying to influence. You may have to stick up to your friends that use indoor tanning equipment. Definitely not backing down was our motto – we weren’t backing down and we were standing up for what we believe in.

What do you hope will come out of the current advocacy work you are doing, supporting legislation prohibiting the use of indoor tanning for those under 18?

The whole idea that I try to push throughout the movement is a generational change – changing the idea that my age group needs to be tanned. The health risk factor isn’t in the mind of anyone. But looking ahead, my sister is eight years-old and I have already ingrained it in her mind that she doesn’t need to tan and when she gets to be my age the accessibility of indoor tanning won’t be there.

What message would you like to send to the Minister of Health and the Government of BC?

The changes we are making now aren’t only directing today’s youth, it is changing the frame of mind for future generations.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other youth that would like to get involved in advocacy?

You have to find that passion and motivation that will make you want to work hard for it and not give up — and finding your individual message that you want to send out. I know that at the beginning I kept going back to the stats and science. But as youth that isn’t really our position – we aren’t doctors or scientists. You have to find something you truly believe in and run with it.

If you would like to join the fight and be an advocate contact us at or send a letter to your MLA in support of legislation.

Taking a stand at the Capital Regional District public hearings

Canadian Cancer Society Volunteer Advocates Jessica Wong, Adele Green, Stephanie Wong and Carli Swift

Jen, Tanning, Women's Health, January 24th, 2012

New Year, New You

By Jen

At the start of every year the common trend seems to be to make resolutions only to forget them by the end of the week. True, quitting smoking or tanning may not be the easiest things in the world, but it’s vital to highlight the benefits you would get from achieving your goals.

Make 2012 a year of health conscience moves, to love yourself and the skin that you’re in. Maybe you want to limit the amount of times you check yourself in the mirror or to stop obsessing over how “pale” you look. Whatever your resolution is, let 2012 be a year to focus on you.

Typically, I find girls my age (and some guys!) complaining about how they resemble an “Edward Cullen” vampire figure. Yes, I have to admit he may be a tad pale but hey, that doesn’t stop him being incredibly gorgeous and winning every girl’s heart out there, does it? My point is that, the tone of your skin doesn’t define you, your character does!

Too often we get caught up in the media and the idea that tanned skin is beautiful or essential. Yes, there may be a lot of products and services out there that seem tempting for that “quick fix” for that achieving that bronzy glow, but there are many dangers that result from tanning. According to the World Health Organization , any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 has been found to increase the risk of melanoma cancer by 75%!

Baby steps.

Okay, we might not be able to wake up looking as godly as a Victoria Secret model or as gorgeous as Ryan Goseling, but we are beautiful and amazing in our own way! Instead of dwelling on things we can’t change, let’s start loving the skin we’re in.

Everyone at some point will struggle with image issues. Being self conscience or not feeling good enough is common, but the way you deal with those insecurities depict how strong you really are. Sure, fake tans may grant you a temporary satisfaction of “beauty” but who are we kidding? You’re basically hiding your own skin and wearing some temporary shell that the media has advertised as a “healthy glow”. Self confidence begins with acceptance of one’s true self and grows when you embrace yourself, flaws and all.

Fact! : The effects of tanning are irreversible and once your skin colour changes, it’s damaged which can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer.

Stay Motivated and make a plan.

REPLACE “I want” with “I WILL”

Will 2012 be the year that you cut the tanning visits and replace it with a gym membership? Maybe you want to stay more focused, active, and take better care of your health. Whatever goals you have, jot it down, stick it beside that tempting chocolate bar, or even by your computer to remind yourself of what you’re fighting for!

Fact: Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for people between the ages of 15-29 and it’s mostly preventable.

Make 2012 a year about YOU ! Whether it be to fit into that bridesmaid dress by March, or to quit the salon tanning sessions. Have a game plan, make reminders of all the benefits and stay focused because you WILL get there! Overcome those insecurities and avoid the tanning bed and start embracing your natural glow! Own your skin , love yourself, and achieve your goals!

Feel free to comment below to share your goals for 2012!

Until next time,

XOXO Jennifer Wu