Cancer is a familiar word for all too many of us. There are many different forms of cancer, and although it can be classified as the same type of cancer, it affects each person differently. Melanoma is just one example of how cancer can come out of nowhere, and change everything. Martensville resident Brenda Kun knows this all too well as she lost her husband Les in the spring from Melanoma.
Les had a mole removed in May of 2016, and after leaving the appointment, the couple didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until six weeks later that their world was flipped upside down. They received a call stating that Les had Melanoma and he required surgery to remove his sentinel node. “We thought at this point that they had gotten it all and he was fine. I think that’s what all people want to think….hoping that it’s true,” Brenda explained. Finding that there was not much information available at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre regarding Melanoma, Les reached out to the Melanoma Network of Canada and spoke with the Founder and Chair of the Board Annette Cyr. “He talked to her numerous times. She was very helpful and supportive for him,” Brenda added.
Les and Brenda went away for the month of January, having to modify their original plans as Les was unable to get travel insurance due to the Melanoma. After returning from their getaway, come mid-February Les began to experience numbness. Concerned that he was experiencing a stroke, the couple went to the hospital where a CT scan confirmed that Les now had seven tumors on his brain. This diagnosis led to 15 radiation treatments throughout the month of March. Following Easter, Les was admitted into the hospital and within 10 days, he had sadly passed away.
Throughout his cancer diagnosis, Les discussed helping to bring more awareness about Melanoma to Saskatoon and area by participating in the ‘Strides for Melanoma’ 5KM walk. This walk has taken place throughout the country for the past five years; however, had never been held in Saskatoon. Unfortunately Les passed away before the walk took place, but Brenda, their son Ryan Kun and their daughter Michelle LaFayette organized the event in honour of Les. The walk took place on Sunday, September 24th in Saskatoon’s Meewasin Park. Approximately 25 people participated in the walk, with $1500 raised. Brenda is hoping that number will increase for next year’s walk. “Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness raises awareness about the importance of protecting against harmful UV rays from the sun and artificial sources as well as checking your skin regularly and seeing a dermatologist for anything of concern,” Cyr explained. “The Melanoma Network is really good and they are trying to get the information out there. When we found that there was no information at the Cancer Centre, they sent information that we could take there. When I spoke to Annette following Les’ service, she told me that my husband had already paid it forward because a man from Prince Albert contacted them after seeing the information at the Cancer Centre. It was good that the awareness was put out there,” added Brenda.
For more information about the Melanoma Network, visit www.melanomanetwork.ca. “If someone has something that they feel is not right, get it looked at and get it removed to be checked. You know your own body, so you know if something seems different, or if it is changing,” said Brenda.