What is your name?
Hi, my name is Di.
Describe yourself in 3 to 5 words:
What is your occupation?
I work full time as a management consultant.
How did you discover your skin condition and how long ago?
I first noticed three suspicious skin changes a few years ago during a self-check. With the help of my optometrist, I spotted one small BCC (Basal Cell Carcinoma) near the corner of my eye. There was another flat pale scaly mark on my cheek which a skin specialist burnt off (just in case). The third mark on my arm was different again - itchy and very waxy in appearance like a scar without a wound. The skin specialist suggested it was something other than skin cancer - I was not convinced. It had grown four times in size over the last year, so I made an appointment with another skin clinic for a second opinion. All other marks were classified as the joys of aging.
Do you have any other skin conditions?
I was diagnosed some years ago with a case of lichen sclerosis. It was an itch driving me crazy which is now at bay due to prescribed ointment. While the affected skin is now thin and delicate and prone to tearing, the itch is no longer a daily distraction.
What is your attitude toward sun protection today?
As a pale, strawberry blonde girl growing up in Australia with green eyes and prone to freckles, I learned to be sun-smart from an early age. Initially, I was motivated by not wanting to get freckles, then with the indelible memory of what it feels like to be burned and blistered from a day on the beach as a little girl. In later years my sun-smart habits were reinforced by watching almost all of my relatives succumb to multiple skin cancer removals and disfigurements - including a cousin who died from undiagnosed melanoma and my sister who has recently had two pale melanomas removed.
These days I am obsessed with sun protection. My regime in recent years has been so effective that people often remark on how good my skin looks which is quite the compliment for someone who is 50-something and raised in Australian conditions.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about taking care of your skin and sun protection?
Nothing beats wearing protective clothing: sunnies, a hat, an umbrella and wearing sun screen and sun-smart swimming gear. It's also important to realise that sun smart means long sleeve shirt and pants - not like much of what you find in summer clothing stores! With so many choices of great sun smart clothing around now, like what you can find in the Solbari range, you can also look super cool even though you are sun safe.
A final word of advice given my sister's experience of pale melanoma on two occasions; if your intuition tells you something is wrong with your skin, then muster the courage to keep asking until you find a doctor who will at least do a biopsy. You might gain an exploratory scar, but it might also just save your life.
Thank you Di for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.