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A Conversation
on Prevention

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

Sirf Dus, Tell 10, Encourages Mammograms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advocacy, National Non-Smoking Week, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, February 18th, 2013

A Surrey Citizen’s Call to Action: Continue to support outdoor smoke-free places

For this year’s National Non-Smoking Week, the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon, called on the B.C. government and all political parties to support smoke-free public outdoor spaces, including parks, beaches, playgrounds and patios of restaurants, pubs and bars.

Tobacco use remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in BC, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year and second-hand smoke is linked to the death of up to 140 British Columbians each year. These are staggering numbers and have moved many British Columbians to action.

Amber Bolu, a Society volunteer and resident of Surrey, BC, wrote to the Surrey News Leader in a letter entitled Continue toward a smoke-free outdoors:

 “As a resident of Surrey, a city which has surpassed the province’s smoking restrictions, residents should know firsthand the benefits and the importance of smoke-free outdoor public spaces.”

During National Non-Smoking Week, diverse views were shared. Some feel that outdoor smoke-free provincial regulations would be going too far; however, the vast majority view smoking regulations as an important measure in the protection of public health and a means to eliminate involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke, a known carcinogen.

An important debate has been raised and moving beyond National Non-Smoking Week, Amber encourages British Columbian’s to continue to keep this issue top of mind:

 “National Non-Smoking Week has passed, but we should continue to keep the importance of smoke-free outdoor spaces in our minds. As the City of Surrey is a leader in smoking restrictions, my hope is to inspire residents to encourage their MLA, and the B.C. health minister, to follow the lead of 30 B.C. municipalities and four other provinces, and keep B.C. beautiful and smoke-free.”

This year’s provincial election is an opportunity for British Columbians to continue to show their support for smoke-free outdoor places. To find out more, visit  


Advocacy, Provincial Election, Smoking, Tobacco, February 13th, 2013

Break up on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is about taking time for your special relationships. But maybe it’s also time to re-evaluate the toxic relationships in our lives.  

Dear cigarette,

It’s not me, it’s you. Let’s be honest with ourselves, this relationship is a dead end.

Things started off well, like most relationships do. I was young and naïve and you seemed so cool and sophisticated. You made me feel special. I saw you whenever I could. I spent my money on you. I was loyal to you — even if it meant uncomfortable conversations with my doctor.

Slowly but surely, I started to feel your effects. You made me feel exhausted. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about– we have an unhealthy relationship.

It’s time to put myself first. It might not be easy at first. I might catch myself in silent moments hoping for your companionship, but I am sure that I’ll be better off without you. 

Let’s call it quits. I’ll be better off without you.


This spring, the Society is asking all political parties in BC to break up with second-hand smoke in outdoor public places  (patios, parks, beaches and playgrounds). Let your MLA know that you support smoke-free outdoor places that everyone, especially children, can enjoy without being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke. To find out more, visit:

Photo: Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read more of Kathryn’s blog posts, visit

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

Pierce Anderson’s “One Thing”

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


Pierce, how long have you been playing varsity basketball?

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

Have you always had a love for basketball?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Armando Tura

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

Kelsey Dundon’s One Thing

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

My one thing: exercise

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

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

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

Or the Via Feratta I climbed in Whistler.

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan Kamprath’s “One Thing”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

John Harrison’s “One Thing”

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

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

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

Have you always lived such a healthy lifestyle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brooke Ostendorf’s “One Thing”

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

How did you get involved in cheerleading?

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

What is the typical day of a UFV varsity cheerleader?

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


Why is leading a healthy life so important to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Women's Health, November 2nd, 2012

Randi Melnick’s “One Thing”

As part of our Men’s and Women’s Health Awareness Initiative, we are asking, “What’s your one thing?” Randi Melnick, a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life, shared her “one thing” with us and is challenging you to pick yours!

I must say that I’m not typically the most “health conscious” person. I love the winter season not just for the beautiful colors but mostly all the tasty comfort foods. We all know these delicious dishes aren’t the best for us, but they are a part of our cultures, traditions and, in my opinion, the consolation prize for having to say goodbye to summer. My new favorite… sweet potatoes baked with marshmallows on top. Like I said, I don’t come across as a very health conscious person!

This is why the ‘My One Thing’ initiative by the Canadian Cancer Society fits so well into my life. I don’t need to change everything about how I live and what I eat. I don’t need to strive for perfection. I just make a small change that is pretty easy and manageable and it may have a huge impact on my health.

My choice was to have a meat-free day once a week. As a native Albertan, this originally sounded somewhat like punishment, but I took the challenge anyway seeing it as an opportunity to learn some new recipes with which I could impress my vegetarian friends. I must say, so far I have been honestly enjoying it. I’m discovering new foods and fun new twists to old favorites that are still delicious but now are meat-free as well.

Research has shown that a diet high in red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. So making this change may reduce my risk of cancer as well as improve my health in many other ways. Not to mention that I’m also reducing my carbon footprint. Strangely it has been good for my ego as well. I now feel like I’m saving the world a little every week.

I enjoy trying new recipes, tweaking them to suit my tastes and being a gracious hostess. It certainly makes me feel great to see people feeling happy and full of great food (at least I hope my dishes are great!).

I’d like to challenge you to pick your one thing. Remember, small things can have a huge impact!

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Women's Health, October 26th, 2012

Miss Chinese Vancouver’s “One Thing”

We had the opportunity to chat with Miss Chinese Vancouver and Canadian Cancer Society Ambassador of Hope, Erica Chui, about her perspective on health and her ‘one thing’. Here is our interview with her:

Congratulations on being awarded the 2011 Miss Chinese Vancouver! What does being Miss Chinese Vancouver mean to you?

Being Miss Chinese Vancouver is like a fruitful journey to my life experiences.  Not only were there ups and downs in finding myself and being who I am, but I got to walk this journey with nine unique girls with the same dream.  Winning the Miss Chinese Vancouver allows me to make my family proud. It is also an honour to take on this responsibility and to contribute my education, knowledge and positivity to the community in promoting awareness of cancer prevention.

When you are taking a break from your duties as Miss Chinese Vancouver, what do you like to do for fun?

I love to be around children, no matter if I am on or off duty.  Children recharge my energy and give me new inspiration in life.  I have a fun time playing with them – I can just never get enough of it!

What are your favorite spots in Vancouver and why?

My favorite spot is the Vancouver Airport.  I can sit there for hours just to watch the planes land and depart, or stare at the line of lights flashing endlessly along the runway.  This spot also has a great view for a sunrise, sunset, or starry night sky.  With this view, I am able to quietly review myself and calm my mind.

With your busy schedule how do you manage to keep health a priority?

I tend to feel stressed when I have a busy and tight schedule.  I have learned to have a calm mind and heart when dealing with stress.  I have to be organized with the tasks I have to complete, and I must fit in enough rest and stable meal times in my schedule.  Both help to keep my immune system strong. Then, I can keep my mind and body healthy.

This fall we are encouraging men and women to make their own Game Plan to defend themselves against cancer. Doing just “one thing” can make a difference to your cancer risk. What is the “one thing” you will commit to doing to help reduce your risk?

I came up with a SMILE as my “one thing” because smiling is something simple and easy to do, so there is no excuse not to do so!  Smiling can also have a positive effect on the people around me. So I am committed to keeping a happy and positive energy to help reduce my own or someone else’s stress.

Anything else you would like to share?

Let your smile change the world.  Don’t let the world change your smile.  KEEP SMILING!

Guest blogger, Men's Health, My One Thing, October 23rd, 2012

Patrick Levesque and Tyrell Witherspoon’s “One Thing”

We recently hung out with Patrick Levesque, co-founder of and Masc Skin Care and his partner Tyrell Witherspoon, entertainer and performer, to get their perspective on staying healthy.

Let’s start off with the all-important question – if you could spend an afternoon with any of the Real Housewives of Vancouver, who would it be and why?

Tyrell: Hmm. I have always had a little bit of a fascination with Ronnie. I think she’s so mysterious and I would love sit down with her for an afternoon and pick her brain.

Patrick: Haha, great question. I would spend an afternoon with Mary Zilba. I’ve gotten to know her over the past year and I think she’s such a sweetheart so I already know I’d have a good time with her. We could make it a doggie play date for our little ones! 

As a trendy young couple, who are both active in your careers and in Vancouver’s social scene, how do you fit maintaining good health into your busy schedules?

Patrick: You just have to make it a priority and get into a good routine. It’s really easy to let work take over your life but you soon realize that balance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is necessary. We encourage each other and try to keep each other on track. We make a good team that way.

Tyrell: I think it’s really important to keep active no matter how busy you are. I am lucky that my professional career allows me to always be on my feet and active, but I think it’s important to hit the gym, go for a run, hike the Grouse Grind – whatever. But as Patrick said, it’s important to maintain that balance. 

Cancer is serious and making one small change can make a big difference in reducing your risk. Can you share with our readers the “one thing” you will both commit to in order to stay healthy?

Patrick: The one thing that I commit to is exercise and clean eating. I was one of those people that was starting to let work takeover my life and soon found that I was putting my health last, not making time for exercise and preparing healthy meals. Over the last several months, I’ve changed that and made specific fitness commitments (a workout partner and regular bootcamp classes), in addition to grocery shopping twice a week and setting aside time to make healthy meals. It took some effort at first, but it’s all about making it a lifestyle. 

Tyrell: Living with Patrick, I too commit to exercise and clean eating. Exercise is really important and I really feel the effects on my health when I don’t keep up my fitness routine. I think setting out a weekly plan for your fitness along with your meal plan, you can really commit to healthy lifestyle. Trust me – it doesn’t happen over night but if you stick to it and stay committed, you can see major results in a short period of time.

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Women's Health, October 15th, 2012

Sarah Jamieson’s “One Thing”

Sarah Jamieson is a local Movement Coach, FMS 2 Coach and YogaFORM founder, with Vancouver-based Fit to Train Human Performance Systems Inc. Sarah is also the founder of RUN4ACAUSE;  an idea that empowers youth and people of all ages to harness their own potential through the power of sport philanthropy. Her goal is to raise 1 million dollars before the age of 35 by connecting great people to great causes. She has raised well over $807,000.00 for over 40 charities. She has a passion for health and shared her “one thing” with us.

This morning I received a call from my family doctor notifying me that I am overdue for my yearly… wait for it… physical, otherwise known as the PAP. Yes, that time when women all over the world flock to the doctor’s office to get poked and prodded, swabbed and sent on their way, crossing their fingers, reciting their own internal monologue; “You better be all good down there.”

Quickly followed by pondering the conundrum of our modern and technological age: “How come they haven’t invented the warm speculum yet?” or “Why can’t they make them pink at least?” Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that if we can work to overcome five minutes of unbearable agony and being uncomfortable, in exchange for a lifetime of cancer-free living, well then, it’s a no-brainer.

Cancer is in my DNA - my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer when I was six years old and four years ago I had my own cancer scare. My doctor found abnormal cell formation in my cervix, and the next several tests would show the same thing – ABNORMAL.

Since I am an Optimist-Prime, I believe that there is a clear relationship between our thoughts and our health, and being a “NegaTron” (obvious Transformer’s pun intended) directly impacts the health of your body and every system in it.

As a health professional, I coach my clients on how to lead a healthy, happy lifestyle that can be free of (dis)ease. The moral of the story is that we each play an active role in accelerating the application of our own cancer-free living, simply by making practical and ethical choices.

I include exercise into my daily routine. I eat clean nourishing food 90% of the time, with 10% in moderation. I meditate and make time for myself.

THERE ARE NO EXCUSES. Why? Because one of the hardest things on this earth to do is to learn to love yourself, and when you achieve this you realize that you will do anything in your power to treat yourself and your body with the value and respect it deserves – even if that means braving the dreaded speculum (which I still think should be pink). This is why I believe early detection and treatment, as well as public health campaigns promoting physical activity and a healthier dietary intake are the BEST ways to live a cancer-free life. Now, go get your PAP.

To learn more about Sarah, visit her blog: Sarah M Jamieson

Guest blogger, My One Thing, Women's Health, October 10th, 2012

Krista DuChene’s “One Thing”

She’s known in the running community as “Marathon Mom”, 35-year-old mother of 3, Krista Duchene. On October 14, 2012, she will be attempting to break the Canadian women’s marathon record at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. We were lucky enough to receive a guest blog post from Krista about her “one thing”.

My one thing: lead by example

Losing your parents to cancer as a young adult forces you to make many important decisions early in life.  As a child, I always had a great interest in health and activity; I wanted to be a nurse and enjoyed playing many different sports. Throughout high school, I narrowed my focus to running and ice hockey. During this time my mom’s health started to fail after having leukemia for five years, and my dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

My five siblings and I knew we’d soon be without parents. My older brothers put their lives on hold to run the farm and care for our ailing parents. It was grim.

But my parents were thrilled to see me continue doing what I loved: running track, playing ice hockey, and choosing a career. My athletic passion and new understanding that nutrition played a major part in both the prevention and treatment of cancer sparked my interest in pursuing a career to become a Registered Dietitian.

More than a decade later, I am happily balancing the jobs of a Registered Dietitian, elite marathon runner, and mother of three. My husband and kids never met my parents but they are spoken of often.

So, what is my “one thing”? Simply put, it is to lead by example.

As a dietitian, I tell my patients to eat half a plate of vegetables at lunch and dinner, as I do. I consume next to no alcohol and fatty meat and implement many other chronic disease preventing diet recommendations, and encourage them to do the same.

As an elite marathoner, I inspire others to set high goals and get active every day, even if it means starting with only five minutes at a time. I lead by example by getting up at 5:00 a.m. some days, always wearing my hat that protects me from the sun.

As a mom, I teach my kids that although others have different lunches at school, we make choices based on our family’s values. Even when it means not buying the convenient, store-bought cookies due to cost, packaging, and poor nutrition, I make them at home. I explain that smoking is not good for our bodies and we are responsible for our choices. Again, leading by example.

I explain to and show my patients, community, co-workers, and family that it takes discipline, dedication, planning, balance, and focus. I go for routine check-ups with my health-care provider, not because my choices increase my chance of cancer but because of my family history. But most importantly, leading by example comes from passion. Passion to be the best I can be and take the best care of this body I’ve been given.

Proud Mom

We wish Krista all the best towards achieving her goal! You can follow Krista’s running on her blog: Kirsta DuChene Running.

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, My One Thing, Provincial Election, Women's Health, October 4th, 2012

Councillor Selina Robinson’s “One Thing”

Guest Blog by Selina Robinson, City Councillor, Coquitlam B.C.

Selina Robinson is a City Councillor for Coquitlam, B.C. and an active member of her community. When she is not engaged in council business, she runs a small private counselling practice, works with community groups to plan and organize a variety of community events and enjoys staying active. She is well-known for your commitment towards health and creating healthy environments. We asked Selina to share her “one thing” with us.  

I know the realities of hearing the words “you have cancer”.  As a survivor I know the fear, the worry and the anxiety that comes with every surgery, treatment and CT scan.  Many survivors can point to the possible causes of their cancer: smoking, poor diet, sun exposure. For some of us, the cancer just appeared. In my case the cancer was not due to smoking, sun exposure, diet or lack of exercise. It just happened. The physicians and researchers don’t have all the answers for what caused my particular cancer … a genetic mutation is all they can say.  But they don’t know what causes this particular mutation.

Given that we don’t always know what causes some cancers (including my own) – I think it’s important that we don’t expose ourselves to unnecessary risks, like exposing ourselves to cosmetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. 

We have enough evidence to know that pesticide exposure may cause some cancers. Given that we use these potentially harmful products for cosmetic purposes, there is no sufficient reason to expose ourselves, our neighbours and our children to their toxic effects. 

My “one thing” has been to champion a cosmetic pesticide ban in Coquitlam where I am a City Councillor. I started the process shortly after getting elected in 2008 and successfully implemented a local ban in 2011. It took three years of engaging the community and educating my colleagues on Council in order to bring the cosmetic pesticide ban to fruition. But the work is not yet done.  A province-wide ban on the sale of these products will achieve better compliance and better results. I plan to keep at it, but I wonder if that will make it two things?

Guest blogger, Men's Health, My One Thing, Survivor, September 27th, 2012

Ryan Steele’s “One Thing”

This fall we are encouraging men and women to make their own Game Plan to defend themselves against cancer. Doing just “one thing” can make a difference to your cancer risk. We sat down with cancer survivor, comedian and all around loveable guy, Ryan Steele, to hear about his “one thing”. 

Who is Ryan Steele? And what do our readers need to know about you?

I am a Vancouver based sketch comedian who is one half of the super hilarious Ryan and Amy Show. I have been doing sketch around the city for over 5 years now and am currently working on my first television show. I am also a cancer survivor! I was diagnosed with testicular cancer when I was 19 years-old and have been clean and healthy for 15 years now. I underwent 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 2 large surgeries that have made me the strong well rounded man I am today.

If I gave you an elephant where would you hide it?

If I was given an elephant I would hide it in my bed because nobody ever goes there. Ba dum ching.

If you could describe yourself with only one word what would it be?

If I could describe myself with one word it would have to be determined.

You survived cancer and know first hand how important staying healthy is. What advice do you have for men to keep themselves healthy?

My advice for men to keep themselves healthy is always being aware of their body. Go for check-ups regularly and see your doctor immediately if you have the smallest worry that something might be wrong. It’s very important to exercise regularly. I suggest running the seawall shirtless (with sunscreen, of course). Great for head turning. ;)  Also, balance your eating habits. Fast food is okay occasionally but not everyday. And of course, don’t smoke. It’s very embarrassing to do so these days.

We’re encouraging people to get a game plan to defend themselves against cancer. Doing just “one thing” can make a difference to your cancer risk. What’s your “one thing” that you will commit to?

My “one thing” I will commit to is cutting down my drinking! I’m known to have a ‘good time’ but I need to limit myself to reduce my chances of cancer in the future.

A huge thank you goes to Ryan for sharing his advice and his “one thing”! You can check out Ryan’s comedy on the Ryan Steele Show!

Men's Health, Women's Health, September 13th, 2012

What’s your one thing?

by Brittney Parks, Canadian Cancer Society

Did you know that up to 35% of all cancers can be prevented by being active, eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight?

Yes, it’s true! It’s easier than you think. Just one change can make a difference. 

During September through November, a Men’s and Women’s health initiative is being undertaken by the Canadian Cancer Society to encourage the public to take charge of their health. We’re asking men and women to take action to live well, be aware and get involved.

 Live Well – You can reduce your cancer risk by making healthy choices every day.

 Be Aware – You can help detect cancer early by getting screened and knowing your body.

 Get Involved – You can fight for change in your community to help reduce cancer risks.

Create a cancer game plan

Start by making one change. Think of one thing you can do to live well, be aware of your body or get involved in reducing risks for everyone. Don’t smoke. Keep a healthy body weight. Limit alcohol consumption. Pick one thing and start making a difference to your health.

Healthier living starts by doing just one thing. Once you’ve declared it, share it.

Spread the word

Upload a photo representing your “one thing” on and “share it” on your favorite social network declaring your one thing. Use the hash tag #myonething

Get social with us

Like us on Facebook: Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. & Yukon Division
Follow us on Twitter: @cancersocietybc

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.