Beware of the Sun

Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh

I am going to take this opportunity to bother you all about the serious nature of skin cancer. I am a fair skinned, freckle faced, red headed individual who wears jeans, long sleeves, bandanas and sunscreen quite religiously. I have always been warned to have skin checks to identify melanomas but always just shrug it off. In my 30 years I have only had 3 complete skin checks.

Recently, my mum made an appointment for me to get a skin check. There is no backing out once mum is on your case. So off I went to strip down in front of the doctor for a very thorough check. Using a watch sized microscope the doctor had a close up look at those which looked a little more suspicious. Upon finding an unusual developed freckle on my elbow, quite dark in colour and growing over the last couple of years, the Doctor decided to take a biopsy. I have had this before with all my results coming back clear. This time however the Doctor called and asked me to come and see her again (always a sign of bad news). After going back to the clinic she sat me down to explain that the mole on my arm was a level 2 melanoma. Still to me this meant nothing, ‘oh yeah I though, no dramas we have already removed it in the biopsy’. The capacity of the seriousness of this situation did not hit me until much later. A level 2 melanoma is easily removed through a surgical procedure. What I did not realise was that a level 3 melanoma requires surgical treatment AND radiation!!! Radiation is a word that all cancer patients dread, it simply means that this situation is very serious.

I always wear long sleeves, broad hat, jeans  and bandana’s when working outside.

17 stitches to remove melanoma from my elbow.

For me and my level 2 melanoma we had to have another surgical procedure to remove the melanoma within a clear threshold. The mole was about the size of the butt of a pen or pencil, however I required 17 stitches to remove the melanoma! Much more than I had anticipated.

I had a false sense of security in thinking that sun cancer was not a life threatening cancer. After now researching the different levels and what is required of the different treatments I now understand the seriousness of this cancer. It is not to be taken lightly. Melanomas can occur without being in the sun but are more likely to be triggered and aggravated by the suns harmful rays. Although I got out of this very lightly, I now understand the consequences of our lifestyle and occupations when living and working outside. Our local community has now also become more aware of the serious nature of this and instead of being so complacent as I was in the past, I will certainly be attending my regular skin checks (every 6 months for the next 3 years) until I have been cleared and then I can return to my annual checks. But for those of us that live and work in the sun day in and day out, a 6 month check is so worthwhile when your life is at risk. Its not hard and doesn’t take long, definitely worth it in the long run.