My name is Gary Cameron.
Retired, fair-skinned, active.
I have been receiving treatment for sun-related skin damage for many years. From time to time my GP has removed basal cell carcinomas from various parts of my body. About 10 years ago I underwent a complete facial treatment to remove sun damaged skin. Since then I have had three basal cell carcinomas removed from both cheeks and above my left eye, the latest operation at the Sydney Skin Cancer Hospital.
I have been seeing a skin cancer specialist for several years and she is now preparing me for another full facial removal of sun damaged skin during the winter months. Each time my skin condition was discovered during checks by my GP or skin cancer specialist. They have been routinely found over the past 10 to 15 years.
While I have always undertaken some protective measures (wearing a hat, applying sun cream), I have been very active in pursuing outdoor activities and may not have used enough protection.
I grew up in the western outback of NSW and, like many kids growing up in small country towns, I played a lot of sport. In summer I played cricket and tennis, two sports which required a lot of sun exposure. Unfortunately I did not wear protective clothing. This is where my attitude and practice have changed.
Even though I still play a lot of sport (petanque and tennis) and spend time in the garden, I am very conscious of covering up to a far greater degree. I wear sunglasses, a broad brimmed hat or legionnaires cap at all times, long sleeves or Solbariarm sleeve extensions as well as a Solbarigaiter. I take greater notice of UV ratings and am well aware that sun damage may still occur on a cloudy day.
I would tell my 16 year old self that it is cool to be covered up. I would tell him that it is still possible to be smart and trendy in clothes that are specifically made to protect him from the sun. I would say that it is relatively easy to prepare yourself for going outdoors. It would only take a few minutes to apply sunscreen, slap on a broad brimmed hat and sun glasses before going outside.
My 16 year old self may be persuaded to wear more protection if I could show him the fashionable garments being promoted by Solbari. I would also advise him to hydrate himself regularly.
Thank you Gary for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.
The Solbari Team
Your skin is your largest organ and has a long memory. Sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) damage is cumulative throughout your life. Research shows that sun damage contributes to more than 90% of wrinkles, brown spots, premature skin ageing as well as precancerous and cancerous skin lesions.
It is very difficult to the untrained eye to identify melanomas and skin cancers because they can come in many different shapes and sizes.
As Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon from the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. says, "the earlier a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better the chance of avoiding surgery, or in the case of a serious melanoma or skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death."