Not many people can say they don’t have a connection with cancer.
For South Surrey’s Shandel Riedlinger, her life has been touched by cancer three separate times, including the death of a close friend’s father.
“Almost everyone has a personal connection,” Riedlinger said in an interview last week. “Everyone knows someone.”
The 21-year-old UBC biology student has been involved with cancer research and prevention for more than four years. While going to school to study the disease at a cellular level, she has also seen the effects of cancer while volunteering as a camp counsellor at Camp Good Times and BC Children’s Hospital.
Through her involvement with the hospital, she received an invitation to a May 11 youth forum hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society’s B.C. and Yukon branch.
“The forum was for youth interested in cancer prevention and community leadership,” she said. “It was a really interesting setup, with quite a few speakers who not only focused on minimizing cancer risks, but also on how to build skills I can use in our community to take action on relevant health and cancer prevention issues.”
Among the 75 attendees at the forum, more than a dozen were from the Surrey, White Rock and Delta district.
“We got to talk about some of our ideas and what we wanted to bring to the table. It was a great way to bring the forum back home,” Riedlinger said.
One project that piqued Riedlinger’s interest was the Tanning is Out campaign, which aims to dissuade youth from tanning. The campaign targets youth in high schools and aims to bring awareness to the detrimental effects brought on by the exposure to UV rays.
“It was really cool. Everything is done in a creative way through social media, like Facebook and Twitter,” she noted. “I spoke to the youth who were involved and we discussed ways we could get involved in schools through PAC meetings or Pro-D days.
“Fifty per cent of cancers are preventable and it’s important to get that message out there. We want to find ways we can make cancer prevention a normal and regular part of school curriculum.”
Other ideas include permanent umbrellas set up at White Rock Beach, which could be used to ward off harsh sun rays.
“You see umbrellas set up on beaches in Europe and Mexico, why not White Rock?” she said.
For more on the Canadian Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.ca