You’d be forgiven for being caught up in the overwhelming constant news and social media posts about the Coronavirus pandemic, but there’s a bigger threat Australians need to take notice of.
I’m talking about, Melanoma.
According to the Melanoma Institute of Australia (MIA), the rate of diagnosis of melanoma of the skin is close to one diagnosis every half hour and is the third most common cancer in Australian men and women.
It is also the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39-year-old Aussies and has been predicted there will be a death of one Australian from melanoma every five hours.
With these few facts I’ve shared, I am concerned this isn’t making bigger news!
So we know Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, but what else do we know about it?
The MIA states melanoma is a form of cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells and most melanoma diagnosis starts with a physical examination of a suspicious-looking spot or mole.
The irony of melanoma is that it is both the most deadly cancer and the easiest to treat when caught early. Melanoma arises most commonly from a mole-gone-wrong, and when spotted early, stage 1 melanoma can be treated completely simply by removing it. But if it goes undetected or unreported and spreads to other areas of the body it becomes very dangerous.
I was born with a very large birthmark on my right calf that my parents decided to have removed when I was quite young. Although the scar spans about 15 cm across my outer calf, unless you’re staring at my leg, it’s hard to notice it.
I keep an eye on it though as there are still some small remnants of the mole on the top and bottom of the scar. Last year I noticed that one of the brown marks had split in two and I immediately booked an appointment with a skin specialist to have it checked out.
I headed to Crown St Medical Centre in Surry Hills and saw Dr Sarah MacDonald who was friendly and thorough checking not only the area of concern but my whole body.
At the conclusion of my appointment, she advised it was nothing to worry about and was the result of the pigmentation splitting and nothing more, but to ensure I keep getting regularly tested.
I had always thought because of my olive skin and Mediterranean background, my skin would be fine. However, it’s attitudes like this that can prove fatal.
I came across Call time on Melanoma on Instagram, with many of the accounts I follow, advocating for more awareness when it comes to the sun.
A social initiative for (sun) smart humans, Call Time on Melanoma was originally founded by journalist Lisa Patulny as a platform to share ambassador Natalie Fornasier’s inspiring story.
Natalie was diagnosed with stage III melanoma at 20, and has dedicated her life to educating others on the realities of living with cancer.
I recommend jumping onto their social channels and hitting follow so you’re reminded in your daily social scroll of the importance of sun safety.
You may be wondering why I’m writing about skin cancer leading into winter. You’d be foolish to think your skin can only be damaged in the warmer weather.
The Cancer Council of Australia stresses that it’s not always about the temperature when it comes to sun safety.
Often people don’t think about sun protection in winter, but in many parts of Australia UV levels are 3 or above right through the winter months.
Heading to the slopes this season? If you ski you are at greater risk with UV levels higher in alpine regions than at sea level and snow is highly reflective.
So what’s my point?
Skin Cancer isn’t something new the media can harp on about day after day, like Coronavirus, as an example. Often the diseases and conditions that are most common, become ‘old news’ and loses its clickbait appeal.
I recently had my make up done at Mecca for my Hen’s Party and had $120 to spend on redeemable products.
I realised my morning and evening beauty routine was pointless if I wasn’t taking care of my skin during the day and I decided to purchase the Mecca To Save Face SPF 30 Facial Sunscreen to wear underneath my makeup everyday.
After a bit of research, experts are debating whether your beauty routine should include sunscreen before or after your moisturiser, but one consistent message is just get it on beneath your foundation.
I hope this blog has inspired you to look at your skin differently and not take it for granted.
The next time you head into Mecca (which let’s be honest, will be soon!) grab a tube of sunscreen and be sure to add some to your face each morning.
On a final note, close down Facebook, stop reading the news and don’t fall victim to the fearmongering media techniques. If it’s any indication, skin cancer kills more Australians than the number of those diagnosed with Corona and I haven’t heard much about that recently, have you?