When Julia Wolf watched the media coverage highlighting her personal experience with skin cancer, her mind immediately jumped to evaluating her on-air appearance, not the support her story might generate.
“I actually didn’t expect anybody to come forward, so I was really touched that so many people were touched,” said Wolf, a single mother from Saanich with Stage 3 metastatic melanoma. “For me, it’s my life. Everyday, it’s like, this sucks, but I should keep pushing forward, but for other people to be touched by it – I was amazed.”
Since the News first ran a feature on the 28-year-old – whose cancer was detected nine years after she first brought her health concerns to doctors – readers have sent her their words of support and personal experiences.
Among them: Kathy Barnard, a melanoma survivor and founder of the Save Your Skin Foundation, a Vancouver-based non-profit dedicated to support and advocacy for those diagnosed with late-stage melanoma.
Barnard was one of the first five Canadians included in American testing for immune and genome melanoma therapies. She has now lived nine years past her expected time of death and the drugs have just been approved in Canada.
“There are treatment options available and I can arm her with the information,” Barnard said.
Despite limited means as a relatively small foundation, Save Your Skin has offered to cover costs associated with Wolf’s treatment, should she need to travel out of province.
“We need to get Julia the drug – no matter where she is. Time is of the essence,” Barnard added. “The hardest part of my battle is that nobody ever gave me a weapon, and now we have those. We have hope now. We never had it before. I want Julia to have that. She has a little boy. She needs to be around. … We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.”
Readers also suggested a number of alternative therapies. Wolf has added Essiac herbal tea intended to help boost the immune system to her treatment and admits to having tried a juice diet.
“It’s hard to know which (therapy) to try, because you Google it and some people say ‘Yes, it works,’ while others say it doesn’t,” Wolf said. “It’s really hard to guide your way through that.”
Many of those who saw the story in the News, as well as other local media, donated to a trust fund for her two-and-a-half year-old son, Lucas.
KidSport came forward and offered to pay his sport fees until he turns 18. There was enough money donated through a website, and through the Saanich Fire Department Charitable Foundation for Wolf plan a trip to Legoland in California with Lucas. She plans to go in August.
“It’s really been an interesting experience,” Wolf noted.
The Save Your Skin Foundation has assisted about 1,000 late-stage melanoma patients globally and is driven by a primary mandate not to solicit donations, but rather to reach out to patients in need of emotional support and treatment advocacy.
“It’s preventable, and if you catch it early enough, it’s got a 95 per cent survival rate. It’s the easiest to check. People just aren’t checking their skin,” Barnard said.
Help for Julia and Lucas
– July 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Barbecue at the Langford Rona, 850 Langford Pkwy.
– Aug. 10, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.: Dance and silent auction (including firefighters) comes to the Archie Browning Sports Centre, 1151 Esquimalt Rd. Tickets are $10 at the door.
– People can give to the Julia and Lucas Wolf trust at any Island Savings location via account #2219467 (WS)