Not going down without a fight!

My name is Diana, and I am taking part in Melanoma Canada’s 2nd annual 7 Summits Snowshoe Challenge for Skin Cancer presented by Neutrogena. Melanoma Canada is raising awareness for the importance of winter sun safety, as well as raising funds to support programs for patients and families affected by melanoma and skin cancer.  

When I first signed up I had no clue that fresh snow reflects up to 88% of the sun’s UV rays, almost doubling you’re my UV exposure. As Canadians we have little choice but to enjoy the great outdoors during the winter months, and as some of the other participants have shown us, we have a great big, beautiful country to enjoy.  

This cause is very dear to me as I am surviving melanoma. Treatment options have significantly advanced since my initial diagnosis in 2013 and my recurrence  in 2018. We need to continue to advocate for ourselves; raising awareness. Melanoma and skin cancers can be prevented! We need to support those who are developing new treatment methods and educate potential future victims of this disease. Hopefully, this, and many other cancers, will one day become a treatable chronic illness to manage rather than a life sentence. Below I share a little bit of my story. 

 I have been exposed to cancer many times, both personally and professionally. No one is immune, skin cancer affects everyone, no matter what age, gender or skin tone you are.  After showing my dermatologist, (who I have seen for many years for the removal of several spots being a fair skinned and freckled redhead) a relatively new, benign-looking spot, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in October 2013 to my left scapula area. I had a wide excision and a  lymph node biopsy and waited for my results with bated breath. The treatment options then were few – Interferon. My surgery was successful, and my nodes were all clear of melanoma, but they revealed a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which we watched until 2017 to treat with chemotherapy. My spirits were good and we carried on. 

 In June 2014, I was diagnosed with a mild form of Ductal Carcinoma in Situation (DCIS), a type of breast cancer. I had surgery, radiation, and received Tamoxifen. Genetic counselling was done with no genetic links found due to a strong family history of cancer. Despite this, my spirits remained positive.  

I was thrown off again in 2018 when a  a lesion was noted on a CT scan of my lung and liver. The biopsies proved it was melanoma – again! But my lymph nodes were clear, and I thought, how could this be? I had a lung resection in October 2018 and started immunotherapy in November 2018 while we tried to figure out how to treat my liver lesions. I recovered well and tolerated treatment. This helped to keep my spirits high  until January 2019, when I became very ill and required hospitalization for 5 weeks! 

It was hard to keep my spirits up there Butt thankfully I have a VERY supportive husband, family, and friends. Even then, I knew that if we got over this hump, then things would be well again. Despite this, I was still fearful that I might be unable to continue with the treatment that was shrinking my liver lesions. That was probably the first time it really hit me that I was metastatic, Stage IV and possibly out of treatment options. Years later, I am happy to say that things are going well. I am NOT going down easily! 

Register for 7 Summits Snowshoe Challenge for Skin Cancer presented by Neutrogena! Funds raised make an impact on those living with melanoma and skin cancer, like two-time melanoma survivor Diana, who’s taking the Challenge for the second time.  

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