Facing cancer? We can help. 1-888-939-3333

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

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

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, 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.

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

Tanning, Youth, December 11th, 2011

Interview with Mayor Desjardins of Esquimalt

by Diyyinah Jamora and Brittney Parks

The truth is tanning is not healthy. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), from the sun and tanning devices, is a known carcinogen. In other words, indoor tanning can cause cancer. Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for people aged 15-29 and it’s mostly preventable.

The risks of tanning can be difficult for many individuals to face – for both infrequent and avid tanners. However, youth across the province are speaking out about this issue. They have played an important role in the passing of BC’s first legislation banning the use of indoor tanning for those under the age of 18 within the Capital Regional District.

We had the opportunity to hear from Mayor Barb Desjardins of Esquimalt regarding youth involvement in this issue.

Youth in the region have shown their strong support for a ban on indoor tanning. “We started receiving emails, sent to all the CRD Directors from youth at one of the high schools here. The message was clear: ‘Help us save our friends. Help us by imposing this bylaw,’” says Mayor Desjardins. The youth of the region sent messages of support with personal stories of illnesses, such as melanoma, and of friends and family who have been affected by the dangers of UV.

Teens can really get political too! “We would have a room full of high school students telling us “you are doing the right thing. You are doing the right thing,” she adds, “To see so much youth engagement in a political process was phenomenal.” The involvement of youth has really proved to be fruitful: “If you had 35 year olds and up saying the same message it would not have been the same message.”

Given that indoor tanning can cause skin cancer, and is especially harmful to young people, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking the BC government to pass province-wide legislation banning those under the age of 18 from using artificial tanning equipment.

At this year’s Union of BC Municipalities Convention, a resolution was put forward by Esquimalt, resolution B157, calling on UBCM to lobby the provincial government to introduce legislation to ban indoor tanning for youth under the age of 18. The resolution passed with overwhelming support. “I was very pleased to see that it was an overwhelming support for the resolutions, which indicated people felt it was important no matter where you were in BC,” says Mayor Desjardins.

At UBCM, with petitions in support of a ban on indoor tanning for those under 18

Mayor Desjardins of Esquimalt has some great words of wisdom for you. “Yes, it is the reality that the sun is wonderful, but it can also be harmful. And you can enjoy it without overdoing it. We need to really understand that the things that we do when we are younger are going to influence what we do when we are older.” she says.

Here is a quotation we would love to have posted on our bathroom mirrors: “Beauty is not within a tan, beauty is within.” Well said! Let the beauty within you be the one to shine.

Guest blogger, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, July 22nd, 2011

What Do Guys Think about Tanning?

By Lehoa Mak, Tanning is Out Project Manager 

This past weekend we had our Tanning is Out summer campaign launch at Kits beach in Vancouver! It was a perfect opportunity for me to get a guy’s perspective on tanning from some of our Tanning is Out Ambassadors.

Josh, a secondary school student, is an energetic guy who loves to play beach volleyball during the summer. Josh stepped it up this summer and decided to make a lifestyle change so that he can still play beach volleyball without having to worry about sun damage. Surrounded by many friends who believe that tanning is safe, Josh is comfortable telling them what he really thinks about it and he was happy to share his views with me.

Do you know some people who love to tan?

Yes, definitely. Most of my friends do believe that naturally tanning outdoors is okay and won’t cause cancer. I think that they don’t understand the harmful effects that the sun can have and that sun damage doesn’t go away. Even if people get sunburnt, they don’t take it that seriously. Before, I never knew that my skin was getting damaged even if it wasn’t getting sunburnt. After I learned more about it, I have been telling my friends the truth about tanning and that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Most of them listen, but they have been doing it for so long that they think that they can’t get skin cancer, so it’s hard to convince them.

Do you think guys consciously tan as part of their appearance?

Yes, they do. I think that media and television shows like Jersey Shore set an example. They show that “gym-tan-laundry” (GTL) is all they do every day. Stars also use tanning beds. The media influences guys to go tanning, so it’s up to campaigns like Tanning is Out, to tell people the truth about it – there’s nothing beautiful about tanning.

Is it common for male students to practice sun safety when playing outdoor sports, either at school or in their own time?

Nope. Maybe the guys think they are too “macho” or something. They think they don’t need sunscreen or anything and that it’s fine to get dark. If the coach said something about it though, they would probably put on sunscreen. What we need is to have the sunscreen there already, so it makes it easier to act on it.

 Do you think most guys are aware that tanning can increase their risk of skin cancer?

I believe guys know that, but it may not have touched them personally. It’s also about the friends they are around…“All my friends don’t put on sunscreen, so I won’t.”

I actually didn’t care about it before, but then I became aware about tanning and the harm it can do to our skin if we don’t protect ourselves. I constantly talk to my friends telling them easy alternatives, like how you can have SPF in your lip balm or getting moisturizer that already has SPF in it. Teens are lazy people and if it’s not easily accessible, they won’t do it. I try to carry sunscreen around in my schoolbag and tell them, “Yo – put some sunscreen on.” 

As a Tanning Is Out Ambassador, what is one message you would share about tanning?

Only one?! Uh oh… that’s hard. Being tanned is not the same as being beautiful.

So there you go! There’s no such thing as a safe tan and you don’t have to tan to be beautiful. Well said, Josh! Find us on Facebook to see where Josh and the other Tanning is Out Ambassadors will be this summer to spread the message on how we can all enjoy the sun safely. 

Guest blogger, Tanning, Youth, June 23rd, 2011

The Unfortunate Truth Behind Tanning Salons

 As a sixteen year old female, Kelly felt the pressure to tan like many other teens. She went undercover as a CBC student News Day reporter to reveal the truth behind tanning salons. In this guest blog, she shares her findings and the dangers associated with indoor tanning.



I am a typical sixteen year old female. I strive to look good and feel confident. A year ago, I would have considered turning to a tanning bed to achieve what I was told a “healthy glow”.  I always saw my favourite celebrities sporting a dark tan and I felt ashamed of my pale skin. I wanted to try out a tanning bed however my parents never allowed me to do so – and thank goodness they didn’t!

I recently took part in a journalism project where I discovered the unfortunate truth behind tanning salons. Working as a CBC student News Day reporter, I had the opportunity to go undercover into numerous indoor tanning facilities.  Very shortly into my investigation I learned that many tanning salons were not following Health Canada’s Guidelines (which state that a waiver is required for individuals under the age of 16 to use tanning beds). Tanning salon operators ignored the waiver; even though I made it clear I was underage. I was told that no consent by my parents was required . I was also encouraged to tan more than once in a 24 hour period which doctors and dermatologists both consider extremely dangerous. 

If there is one thing that I’ve learned it’s that there is no such thing as a healthy glow. There are various statistics one can argue, however there is absolutely no denying that there is a relationship between the harmful rays emitted by tanning beds and skin cancer. Think about it this way! Kids my age, hop into tanning beds left right and center for an awfully vain purpose and are potentially increasing their risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by 75%! Why would anyone increase their risk of developing the most deadly form of skin cancer on purpose?

We as teens are increasing our risk of skin cancer and the worst part is, we don’t even know it. It sickens me that this industry is targeted towards ill informed teens (like myself a  only a short year ago).

The World Health Organization has suggested that all countries impose a ban on the use of tanning beds for individuals under the age of 18 . Ireland, France, Australia, New Brunswick, some states within the US and the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island have imposed bans.

I understand that society portrays being tanned as being beautiful however this is a mentality we need to change. Embrace your natural skin. 

~ Kelly, St. Thomas More Collegiate
Burnaby BC

Guest blogger, Tanning, Youth, June 23rd, 2011

Lambrick Park Students Lead the Tan-Free Grad in BC

By Leanna Hill, Volunteer Victoria 


Have you heard the scoop on fake tanning? Did you know that the province is currently considering banning the use of tanning beds by minors (under 18)?

Ally and her fellow grads at Lambrick Park Secondary sure know a lot about it. In fact, Ally and her friend Jen lobbied for a tan-free grad as part of a province-wide Canadian Cancer Society campaign – and won with the most grade 12s in the Vancouver Island Region pledging NOT to fake-tan for grad!

You may or may not know about the risks of fake-tanning, but the Canadian Cancer Society can fill you in: “Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is one of the most common cancers in young people between the ages of 15 and 29, and is mostly preventable. Research done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that being exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75%.”

The campaign that Ally and Jen ran at Lambrick Park is a great example of young people getting involved in a cause they care about, volunteering their time, and getting their peers on board. I wrote to Ally to ask her if she would consent to being interviewed. She agreed, and the following questions will let you in on their experience.

What motivated you to get involved in this campaign?

The Canadian Cancer Society came into my leadership class about two months ago and did a spiel on what they were all about and about their upcoming projects. It seemed like a neat opportunity to get involved. Also having lost my uncle to cancer a few years back it seemed like a good place to start in terms of picking a cause I cared about.

How many volunteer hours do you think you’ve spent getting this campaign together?

Throughout the 2 week campaign I think we probably worked between 10 and 15 hours.

What did the process look like at your school?

When we began the process we were a little wary of where to start as we were given the go ahead to go in whatever direction we pleased. We decided to go with a fairly conservative approach, at first putting up posters and then setting up a table during lunch so people could come up, ask questions, and hopefully sign the pledge. For our final push, Jen and I put together a slide show presentation and presented it during a grad assembly. (That was the major success piece!) 

You’ve won the award for highest grad pledges for tan-free grad in the Vancouver Island Region, how do you think you were able to do that?

I think that because we are such a small school and that most of the students know each other was a large contributing factor. Both Jen and I felt comfortable going up to our peers and telling them about the Tan Free campaign. Also we have a few teachers who are very keen on winning prizes, no matter what they happen to be, so they were very helpful when it came to providing us with what we needed, for example, a grad wide assembly to present at! 

How will you celebrate that award?

No plans of celebration yet, although I do know quite a few students who are stoked for the photo booth at our dinner dance that we won – so I’m sure they will take a few celebratory photos!

Has anything surprised you about being involved with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tan Free Grad campaign?

I was actually very surprised about multiple things along the way. I couldn’t believe the support that we were given, not only by our peers when they signed the pledge, but by the teachers and the Cancer Society volunteers – especially Nancy! It was great to feel that our efforts were actually helping and that people took the time to listen to what we had to say. It wasn’t just the support that shocked me though, I mean after all our school is great at helping out, but even I couldn’t believe some of the facts and dangers that went along with indoor tanning! It’s crazy how damaging it can be.

What have you gotten out of this experience?

At the beginning, to be honest, I just saw it as a neat opportunity to get some volunteer experience through a cause that seemed to be something I could relate to. I didn’t expect to get much out of it, but I realize now it is and was a lot more than just a resume booster. I think the main thing I got out of the campaign is perspective. Not only just a new perspective on tanning, but on the whole volunteer world. Up until now, I’ve only been involved in a few programs that are outside of school. I didn’t realize how much is out there! It really gave me a new insight for volunteering and when I have more time, I truly want to become more involved in other opportunities. 

So congratulations to the graduating class at Lambrick Park Secondary School, who pledged to go tan-free! And congratulations to Ally, Jen, the Canadian Cancer Society and all those supporters along the way who made this happen with such success.

I’m inspired :)

Leanna Hill, Volunteer Victoria

Guest blogger, Tanning, Youth, June 14th, 2011

Teens in PEI Plan Not to Tan

Teens in Prince Edward Island are joining the tan-free movement. We connected with Nicole and Alicia, Grade 12 students and leaders of the Plan Not to Tan campaign at their high school in Kensington, PEI. In this guest blog post, they share with us how they encouraged fellow students to go tan-free for prom.

We attend a small school in Kensington, PEI with only about 400 students in grades 7 to 12. Our grad class this year of 90 students is one of the biggest the school has seen in recent years. With a class this size, in a school this small, there are bound to be pressures, esspecially around the time of prom. There is always that underlying false idea that, particularly girls, need to have a tan at prom to look their best. We are proud to say that half of our 2011 grad class chose not to tan for this year’s prom, thanks to our successful Plan Not to Tan campaign.

The campaign began last year as the initiative of a student whose friend’s mother had been diagnosed with skin cancer. She was passionate about informing students at our school about the dangers of indoor tanning and excessive sun exposure, thus developing the idea of Plan Not to Tan.

After the success of last year’s campaign, we decided to continue it this year. The main idea was that students in grade 12 who were attending the senior prom had the opportunity to sign a pledge sheet saying they would not use a tanning bed and would be sun safe leading up to prom. Suprisingly, half of our graduating class signed the pledge. We were taken aback, to say the least.

For this year’s campaign, we tried some tactics, such as creating our own posters, which we put up around the school. These features us wearing hospital gowns and had statemenst such as “I’m not tanning becuase I don’t like this gown” and “Not the gown you pictures yourself in at prom?”. While these were quite shocking and scary, they certainly made an impact. Many students saw these posters and began to think about what they were saying.

Our reasoning for doing this campaign is to inform our fellow grads and students about the dangers of tanning. Because we are from such a small school, our grad class is a pretty tight-knit group of individuals. Therefore, when push comes to shove, each and every person in our class cares deeply about one another. We all know how difficult it is to lose someone in our class that we all care about. Skin cancer is preventable, and consequently, so is a potential death that follows it. We do not want to lose someone else from our grad class, especially due to something that could have been prevented by simply being sun safe and having the facts. If we have convinced just one person to think about his or her actions regarding tanning, then we have done a great job.

Now that our prom has passed, we can proundly say that the majority of our grad class did not tan. It was amazing to see so many people wearing their natural glow to prom, proving that it is possible to be beautiful without a tan. The fact that so many people felt comfortable to do so made us proud; proud that we had a part in their confidence.

Our camapign was very successful this year, getting national coverage along with the Tan Free Grad campaigns across the country. We hope that Plan Not to Tan is continued for years to come, and that the number of students using tanning beds for prom keeps dwindling.

Nicole Mountain and Alicia Silliker,
2011 Kensington Intermediate Senior High School Relay for Life Committee Co-chairs and Plan Not to Tan Campaign Coordinators