It wasn't until I retired and relocated to Queensland from Victoria that I discovered that yearly skin checks were important. Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in Australia. I was shocked to be diagnosed with a squamous cell cancer on my forearm and shortly after, a Basal Cell on my throat.
My melanoma was diagnosed in August 2019, however I was concerned about the mole on my leg in 2010. It popped up quickly and I went to the GP within two or three weeks. He did a punch biopsy and when I returned for the result, I saw a different GP in the practice who told me it was "fine, nothing to worry about" and wrote on the pathology report “no worries”.
The damage that is caused today by the sun can never be undone, and a potential deep burn in the pursuit of the perfect tan is not worth risking future skin cancer. I recently had a skin cancer scare which reminded of this. On a very overdue skin check, the doctor discovered something which had all the hallmark signs of a melanoma.
About 15 years ago I came up in a rash all over my body after being at the beach. After several months I was diagnosed with Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE). At first I avoided the sun like a vampire, but that meant missing out on activities I enjoy, like horse riding, swimming, playing outside with the dog. I now do lots of outside activities but I cover myself head to toe with sun protective clothing and sunscreen.
My level of sun exposure as a child was relatively low however I did use a sunbed from time to time back in the 1980's when it was recommended that you prepare your skin before heading over to Europe! How wrong was that advice!
My mum, dad and mother and father in law have ALL had sun cancers or sun spots removed. I see so many people of their generation having similar treatments. Now that we have a better understanding of the dangers, our younger generation can protect themselves better - especially with more choices of sun protection methods!
I moved to Australia over 10 years ago. I grew up in northern Europe and it took me a few years to re-calibrate my inner compass and my approach to sun protection! At first I was not paying any attention to Australian sun at all. Once I learned about the risks, my attitude change 180 degrees.
Living in Queensland, being a mother of three fair-skinned, freckly red-headed children (all currently under the age of five) and having had a sun spot recently removed from my face, I take sun protection much more seriously than ever before.