Message From the Chair, Annette Cyr

It has been well over thirteen years since Melanoma Canada (formerly Melanoma Network of Canada) was founded to respond to the needs of the melanoma patient and caregiver community.  I hope you are pleased with our new look, and cool new logo that changes shape, size, and colour, like a melanoma, that we introduced this year. In conjunction with our new name and logo, we also introduced our revised mission, vision, and values, and renewed our commitment to deliver innovative, industry leading education, support, and awareness programming for the melanoma and skin cancer community. We are looking forward to introducing you to our new website shortly. In our unwavering efforts to raise awareness of skin cancer and melanoma, we have created a streamlined site that is easy to navigate, full of incredible information and resources and will certainly be a valuable tool for patients, families and medical practitioners alike.  

Reflecting back on all that we have accomplished over the years, I could not be prouder of the team at Melanoma Canada (MC), the incredible dedication of our Board of Directors and prior members, the volunteers, donors, and supporters.  Thirteen years ago, I had no idea the level of work and commitment it would take to develop and grow a national charity – I only had the passion and desire, shared with many of you, to make a change and a difference in the lives of melanoma patients.  Having struggled as a patient at a time where there were no effective treatments beyond surgery, no support or information resources available, I knew there had to be a better way.  The numbers of melanoma and skin cancers were and are significant and continue to rise at alarming rates– patients deserved better and needed more. 

Thankfully, there has been progress on so many fronts.  We now have over ten new treatments for advanced melanoma and several new therapies for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, merkel cell and one in process for uveal melanoma. MC was instrumental in advocating for approval of these therapies as well as provincial coverage across Canada. This is a massive leap in the treatment of this group of cancers and has made a significant impact on survival rates for patients.  The patient voice matters when it comes to health care. 

Melanoma Canada has developed and provides the most comprehensive patient information resources available anywhere in the world. These easily accessible publications have been provided free to hospitals, dermatologists, and medical clinics across Canada and are downloaded thousands of times each year by those seeking support and guidance.  We also are a rarity amongst cancer charities, providing a full time ‘cancer coach, a professional whose role it is to provide psychosocial support services to patients and family members through the emotional stress and strains of a diagnosis.  She also leads our outstanding peer-to-peer support program that lends an ear from another patient who has been there, done that.   

Prevention has always been a part of what we do.  We led the charge of restricting access to tanning beds in Ontario and worked with other provinces to do the same.  We still would like to see them gone completely but are still working to achieve that goal and raising awareness of the cancer-causing effects of radiation. We have had several award-winning sun safety programs – ‘Three Ways to Block the Rays’ and our summer camp program, Screen Me Sun Aware which has kept tens of thousands of children and youth sun safe each year.  Besides our vast number of awareness videos and educational programing, we have also delivered hundreds of in person patient information sessions and webinars, to help keep patients informed and connected. 

There is no doubt that the last three years have been disruptive, devastating, and nerve wracking in some way for all of us.  The strains of the COVID-19 pandemic on an already overburdened health care system have caused significant issues for cancer patients. We are seeing the impact of delayed diagnosis and care everywhere.  As we contemplated how we might help and also focus attention on the lack of access many patients have to timely diagnosis and care, Melanoma Canada is thrilled launch several new projects in 2023.  Some are under wraps, but one is coming your way – literally.  We decided to get on the bus and make a difference!  We will be launching a new Mole Mobile in the spring of next year to help screen for skin cancers and raise awareness of the need for early diagnosis to improve outcomes. We will visit remote, indigenous and underserved communities, along with areas where the wait times to see a dermatologist exceed six months.  Our goal is to keep the bus in operation for five (5) summers and visit every province! For more details and to help support this important initiative – get on the bus with us!

On behalf of the Melanoma Canada Board of Directors and staff, I want to wish you all a joy-filled holiday season, good health, and all the best in the new year.  Many thanks for your ongoing support.   

Annette Cyr 

Founder, Chair – Board of Directors    


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