Monthly Archives: October 2016

Silver linings: the story of cancer, Canprev and second chances

CanPrev is known for its quality line of comprehensive natural health products, but what many people don’t know is how and why CanPrev started.

I was a 19-year-old business administration student at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus when I discovered a hard, pea-sized lump just under the surface of my left breast.

I thought nothing of it until an ultrasound revealed a nodule about the size of a dime. Several doctors assured me I was too young for it to be something as serious as cancer, so I promptly and conveniently forgot about it.

The following spring, the lump had become so painful that I insisted upon its removal. A few days after the surgery I drove myself to the hospital to have the stitches removed. That’s when my surgeon regretfully told me that they didn’t get the entire tumour and another surgery was necessary to remove more of the breast.

Tumour? This was the first time the doctor had even uttered the word.

I clearly recall the river of tears that streamed down my cheeks on what seemed like an endless drive home.

My father was the first to receive the news that his 21-year-old-daughter had breast cancer. I asked him to speak with my surgeon; I still hadn’t grasped the reality of what was really going on. I was dumbfounded that nobody had the decency to tell me the truth about my condition.

I began to realize that listening to my body and taking ownership of my health was crucial.

A second surgery removed the rest of the tumour, more breast tissue and all 13 of my lymph nodes on that side of my body. The row of stitches on the left side of my body was so tight that I couldn’t lift my arm. The procedure was considered successful, but it left me feeling like I’d been scraped clean.

My oncology team formulated a recovery plan comprising chemotherapy, radiation and a pipeline of drugs. I was concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach, especially since there was no metastasis to the armpit nodes.

Thus began my research.

I contacted the Canadian Cancer Society, and I was connected with survivors who were more than willing to talk about their experiences. The more I learned about the treatments and their side effects, the more insistent my inner voice became: chemotherapy wasn’t the way to go.

I stunned my doctors with my decision. They thought that I should take advantage of every option I had to reduce future risk. The more they pushed, the more I resolved to take ownership of my health.

I was making a well-informed personal decision, and nobody would change my mind.

When I was a child, my father took the family on yearly trips to his homeland, Germany. We would see a homeopathic doctor for checkups and were treated with various remedies. Being exposed to the world of natural medicine had a profound effect on me.

As a young girl, I witnessed time and time again the healing power of the supplements we took. I believe my early experiences with natural medicine put the seed of complementary and alternative medicine in my head, and helped me to recognize that I had options when it came to my health.

In place of chemotherapy, I decided to accept the recommended 25 rounds of radiation. My decision was predicated upon the fact that I didn’t want to risk my general and reproductive health with chemo. I was unmarried at the time, but I knew I wanted to have children someday.

Radiation was brutal and I felt the effects for a full year afterward, but I was grateful for every hour of life. Five years passed. I was considered cured.

In 1996, I met Franco Salituro. It was one of those classic stories where we met, exchanged a few words, and immediately felt a connection. I was drawn to him from day one; intuitively I knew Franco and I would one day make a great entrepreneurial team. Two years later, we were married.

We welcomed a son in 2000, and our daughter followed in 2002. I settled comfortably into motherhood. Franco worked at a secure job, and though we decided I would be a stay-at-home mom, we began to save a little nest egg that we would one day use to start our joint venture.

We were blessed with our small family and the plans we were dreaming up for the future. I was happy. Healthy.

Or so I thought.

In 2003, familiar painful twinges in my left breast stopped me in my tracks. I was devastated because in my heart I knew my cancer had returned. A mammogram confirmed what I’d already suspected.

My surgeon speculated that after having two babies back-to-back, elevated estrogen levels played a role in the recurrence. I opted for a third lumpectomy and, once again, surgery was thought to be successful.

But within a year, the nightmare pains returned and it was almost too much to bear.

Not to worry, there’s a lot of scar tissue and that’s likely causing the pain, I was told. I couldn’t get another MRI since the mammogram came back negative, so I was advised to wait six months, keep an eye on it and then come back. Perhaps there would be something detectable then.

The next six months of stabbing, debilitating pain was rivaled only by the agony of wondering if the cancer was metastasizing. Homeschooling my two children was a welcome distraction, but every day felt like a year.

At the end of my rope, and after a lot of contemplation, I told Franco I’d decided to have a mastectomy. I wanted to make sure the cancer would never come back again. My ever supportive husband said, “Whatever you decide, I’m behind you. I just want you to be well.”

I spent years looking for more natural solutions to reduce my risk. I saw a holistic nutritionist, an iridologist and two Naturopathic Doctors. They were great, but when it came to supplementation, I couldn’t find any in the therapeutic doses I required to restore my energy or take away my chronic sore throat. That’s when the idea came: Franco and I would seek the guidance and counsel of natural health professionals and start our natural health products business.

We would start a company that would educate people about the benefits of natural medicine and bring it to the mainstream. We were going to help people take ownership of their health with safe and effective products – the kind I’d been personally seeking for so long.

In 2005, Franco gave his notice at work, and I said goodbye to my left breast. The surgery was far worse than I had imagined; lymph nodes had grown back and had to be removed. There were staples galore and an uncomfortable drain for over 10 days. But still, CanPrev was becoming a reality. Our dream was coming true…

We launched our first line of therapeutics in January 2006. Slowly and purposefully we grew, carefully assembling the talented group of individuals that comprise the CanPrev family today. And as the company flourished, so did my family, as I gave birth to two more children in 2010 and 2011. I was in my forties by then, and my prayers and dreams had been answered in more ways than one.

I didn’t know it at the time, but having cancer was actually preparing me for a personal and professional journey that would fulfill my life in ways I never thought possible. From something so terrible has come so much good.

In 2015, we marked 10 years of providing quality, comprehensive products that people use to support their health every day. We are grateful for the wonderful results; the daily testimonials of how these natural health products are helping Canadians is humbling.

It’s my hope that CanPrev will continue to educate and bless others with the gift of better health, for many more decades to come.

Yours in good health,

Tanya Salituro.


Three easy steps you can take to help save our supplements

The deadline to submit your feedback directly to Health Canada about the recently proposed changes to the Natural Health Products Regulations is Monday, October 24.

Please click here to participate in this consultation now! You can use this document as a guide to help you complete the consultation.

These changes will have a significant impact on the way natural health products are regulated and marketed in Canada and will greatly impact you as a consumer.

You can make your voice heard and share your views on the future of natural health products in Canada in a few ways:

  1. To read Health Canada’s consultation paper in full and provide your feedback, head over here. Consultation process closes October 24. Visit the Canadian Health Food Association to learn more about its #SaveOurSupplements campaign. It also provides a quick link for you to share your concerns with your local member of Parliament.We encourage you to get involved in this debate to ensure the continued and extraordinary access to safe, effective, and high-quality natural health products that we enjoy here in Canada. If you care about natural health products (NHPs) and about having control of your own health, we urge you to complete this survey BEFORE the deadline of Oct. 24.
  2. To save you time, we have formatted a letter that you can send to your MP to voice your opposition to Health Canada’s proposed new regulations to Natural Health Products.
  3. Use this handy tool to quickly locate your MP and their email address by plugging in your postal code.

Please share this with everyone you know, so we can continue to enjoy safe, high-quality, affordable natural health products.

What Health Canada’s proposed natural health products regulations mean for you

What is this all about?

Health Canada released a surprising consultation paper in early September that calls for a dramatic overhaul in the way it has been regulating what it calls self-care products, including natural health products (NHPs), cosmetics and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

We say surprising, because the way in which NHPs have been regulated for the last 12 years ensures that consumers have access to well-made, safe, and effective products, while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity.

In fact, Canada’s current system of regulation for NHPs continues to serve as a gold standard throughout the world.

As it stands now, the NHPs that you find on the shelves at your local retailer have been licensed by Health Canada. This means that a manufacturer has provided documentation that shows the product is safe and effective, along with evidence supporting any claims being made.

For instance, a wide range of documentation is currently accepted, such as proof of historical use and published scientific evidence. In addition, product labels now include detailed information to help people make safe and informed choices.

Health Canada has repeatedly stated publicly that it regulates NHPs this way because “Canadians want a range of treatment choices available to them for conditions they can manage themselves” and “Health Canada supports these choices in its licensing decisions by applying standards of evidence appropriate to the product type.”

Tell me more about the proposed changes

In a nutshell, Health Canada proposes to bring self-care products under one new set of rules and regulate each category according to potential health risks they pose.

For example, under the proposed new regime, vitamins, minerals, supplements, and homeopathic remedies would be classified as “low risk,” along with other products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and cosmetics.

Moderate-risk products would include oral pain relievers such as ibuprofen, laxatives, and cough and cold remedies.

Products that are switching from prescription to non-prescription status, contain new medicinal ingredients and products related to cardiovascular health would be considered higher risk.

What this would mean for a newly classified low-risk NHP is that Health Canada would no longer review or license it, or review any claims it makes. The manufacturer, in fact, would be prohibited from making claims about the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, mitigation of a disease or condition. Claims other than that, such as “maintains healthy bones” or “helps metabolize fat” would be accompanied by a disclaimer indicating that Health Canada has not reviewed the product for effectiveness.

So, what does it all mean?

Health Canada’s proposal represents a marked departure from the way it has regulated NHPs for the last 12 years. The erosion of consumer confidence in NHPs may be an unfortunate outcome of the proposed new changes.

The health agency’s proposed new regulation regime for NHPs is likely to result in much less choice for consumers at a time when health concerns are rising and health awareness is growing.

Health Canada would do well to consider increasing its support of NHPs in an effort to reduce rising health care costs, particularly when NHPs have a long history of traditional use, as well as being safe and effective.

The government’s complete reversal on accepting as evidence a wide range of documentation to support NHP claims means health-aware consumers will be that much less informed by product labels. People make better-informed choices about their health when they have access to adequate and accurate information.

What’s more, the cost of NHPs could be driven up as manufacturers may face increased regulatory fees, additional labelling and advertising amendments, and perhaps even product reformulations.

How to get involved

You can make your voice heard and share your views on the future of natural health products in Canada in a few ways:

To read Health Canada’s consultation paper in full and provide your feedback, head over here. Consultation process closes October 24. Visit the Canadian Health Food Association to learn more about its #SaveOurSupplements campaign. It also provides a quick link for you to share your concerns with your local member of Parliament.

We encourage you to get involved in this debate to ensure the continued and extraordinary access to safe, effective, and high-quality natural health products that we enjoy here in Canada.