Not Just Skin Deep – Fighting back Against Malignant Melanoma

One of the things that I love about being a photographer is having the time to give back to causes that I feel passionate about.  Last fall I donated my photography services to an event hosted by the Jennifer Brouwer Design Team to raise money for Yellow Brick House Markham (my blog post on the event is here.

Jenn’s team spent hundreds of hours of work on the new Yellow Brick House space and did just an amazing job – click here to see a video of Jenn in the space and a little taste of her final design.

This spring I am participating in another event that I feel is just so important to talk about.  It is called Not Just Skin Deep, and it is a fundraiser created by a fellow photographer Kelly Gemmell to raise money and awareness for the  David Cornfield Melanoma Fund (DCMF).

Kelly is a wife, a mother of two beautiful little girls, a photographer – and a cancer survivor.  She was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in October of last year and after two surgeries and a lymph node biopsy she now is cancer-free.  The remarkable part of Kelly’s story is that she is not taking this cancer scare lying down, but is determined to fight back against this terrifying and devastating disease.  “The fight begins with an initiative called Not Just Skin Deep. The goal is to raise $10,000 in one day for the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. Over 20 photographers in Southwestern Ontario and British Columbia have volunteered their time and talent to support this initiative! On May 26th, we will come together to provide portraits for over 100 families, with 100% of the proceeds supporting the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund.” – Kelly Gemmell

And that is where I come in.  Kelly is amazing, tough, courageous, and inspiring and so I have volunteered to be one of the many photographers donating a few hours of my time to support this amazing cause.  Because every photograph of the people you love captures a precious moment in time to be treasured forever.


Facebook page: click here

The Not Just Skin Deep Fundraiser

The NJSD event will be held on May 26th, 2012 in several southwestern Ontario cities (including Guelph, Markham, Toronto, and Mildmay) and in British Columbia from 4:30pm – 7:00pm.  For a fee of $100, each couple or family (up to 5 people) will receive a 20 minute outdoor photography session with one of the NJSD photographers as well as a disc of 5 retouched, high resolution images with full printing rights (an amazing deal!)  100% of the funds raised will go to support the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund.

To book a session, please send an email through the NJSD website contact page (click here).  Requests for specific photographers will be accommodated if possible, but please keep in mind that  there are no guarantees.   Check out the NJSD website for information on Kelly and the photographers participating in the event.

The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund

“The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund was established in 2007 and is devoted to saving lives from melanoma by promoting awareness of this potentially deadly disease.” – from the DCMF website.  The creation of the fund was inspired by the memory of David Cornfield, who died from malignant melanoma at the age of 32.

The objectives of the fund are to create awareness about melanoma, to promote prevention and early detection, to fund research and education into the cause and cure of melanoma and to support patients and their families battling the disease.

Among it’s accomplishments, DCMF has funded the creation of a melanoma awareness film called Dear 16-year-old Me.  In the video, skin cancer survivors speak about the experience of melanoma, and what they might have done at age 16 to prevent it.  Watch the video here, and then pass it on!

Some facts about melanoma (taken from

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
  • The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.
  • An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US in 2011 — 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive, with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.
  • Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
  • Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
  • About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  • A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.

Your risk of melanoma can be decreased by reducing your exposure to UV radiation.  Unfortunately even with increased awareness of the dangers of sun exposure, many people still do not protect themselves from the damage caused by UV radiation (especially in the teen years).  Click here for guidelines on how to prevent sun damage for you and your loved ones.

Anyone that knows me knows that I have a love/hate relationship with the sun.  I love the beautiful, warm, natural light that the sun provides in my photography, but I have always preferred to sit in a patch of shade under a tree or umbrella rather than under the sun’s scorching rays.  Having children has only made me more sun-conscious, and so as a family we hit the beach sporting UV wear, hats and plenty of sunscreen.  I hope you do the same!

Photos by Anita Woo.


About anitawoo

A photographer & mom with a passion for capturing life's moments with my camera.
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6 Responses to Not Just Skin Deep – Fighting back Against Malignant Melanoma

  1. What a Great Cause! Just lost a friend last week to Stage 4 Skin Cancer that moved into his brain – lived too short of a life. Thanks for sharing!

    • anitawoo says:

      So sorry to hear about your friend. Unfortunately many of the people that die from melanoma are so young. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Thanks so much for the great post and for your support. We are so appreciative of all of the incredible photographers who are donating their time and talent. We are very excited for this event and look forward to meeting you! – Elyse, DCMF

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