AS THE days get longer and warmer and people start to spend more time in the sunshine, a new Cancer Council WA campaign is urging people to remain aware of the dangers of skin cancer.
Don’t Let The Sun See Your DNA is a statewide initiative that kicked off on Sunday to increase public knowledge of the risks associated with ongoing UV exposure.
Cancer Council WA’s Great Southern Regional Education Officer Bruce Beamish said half of all sunburns in Australia occurred during passive recreation, such as watching sport, garden, picnicking and doing chores.
TAFE Beauty Therapy lecturer and coordinator Alison Sharpe is all too familiar with this type of sun exposure.
“I was driving one day and I saw this opaque, almost clear-looking freckle on my hand, and it was tiny but I showed the doctor anyway,” she said.
“The doctor said it was fine but I said, ‘no, can you check it again’, and they ended up taking a big triangle out of my hand because it was a melanoma.”
Ms Sharpe frequently spends time in the sun and is now hyper-aware of skincare.
Alongside Mr Beamish, she teaches her beauty therapy students the importance of being aware too.
“I love going to the sea and gardening…but the sun is pretty vicious here,” she said, reiterating the importance of her sun protection behaviours.
“I teach my students about how to recognise abnormal freckles and moles, and to not be afraid to refer a client to the doctor.”
Albany Ink’s Danica Joysdottir lost her mother to skin cancer a few months ago and has since joined the Cancer Council’s mission to raise awareness of early detection and looking for symptoms.
“My mum was always sunbaking in Mexico and Canada,” she said.
“She had a mole that she kept catching when she was shaving, so she went to the doctors to get it checked.
“The doctor said it was fine but she went back and asked for it to be removed…she wasn’t educated in the fact that it’s when the cancer comes back that it’s dangerous; it had metastasized.
“It grew into this big lump on her leg and by the end, she had so many lumps over her body…you could smell her rotting flesh.”
Ms Joysdottir will soon be stocking special sunscreen in her store to remind her clients and anyone who stops by the store of the importance of sun protection.
“I worked as an apprentice for a year and a half and the tradies never liked wearing sunscreen because they’d get grit on themselves and it wouldn’t feel very nice,” she said.
“Cancer Council has come out with a non-greasy sunscreen now so hopefully we can encourage them to wear that, as well as remind people to cover up their tattoos.”
Visit sunsmart.com.au for more information.