What is your name?
My name is Karen St Ledger.
How did you discover your skin cancer / melanoma / skin condition and how long ago?
In my early 20s I developed a butterfly rash on my face that wouldn't go away. I was quickly diagnosed with discoid lupus and my specialist stressed that it was very important for me to stay protected from the sun. This was in the early 80s and I was living in Queensland, so it was a tough call.
I had to wear long sleeves and big hats whenever I went outdoors, and I avoided going outside altogether during the intense sunlight hours. Later I was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (and other auto immune diseases) and I am on a medication that makes me sun sensitive, so my lifelong habit of protecting myself from the sun turned out to be a blessing.
Because of my conditions I have never been an outdoors sporty person, instead I prefer to go for long walks in the late afternoon and do indoor exercises like tai chi and pilates. But in Queensland it's very hard to avoid the sun throughout the year.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
I wear protective gloves for driving, a hat every day, and I always carry a sun protective umbrella. I also apply a good quality sunscreen. Solbari products are excellent - with beautiful, long lasting 50+ fabrics - they are classy and very good value for money.
It is so important to embrace sun protection, especially when it directly impacts your health. To do this you just need to allow a little bit of extra time each day to make sure you have everything you need in a bag - sunscreen, long sleeve shirt, hat and umbrella. I never leave the house without my sun umbrella, it the most essential accessory I own.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about sun protection?
When I think of my 16 year old self, I remember how I would walk to and from school every day, refusing to wear my school hat, in the blazing summer sun. You can't undo that damage, but I feel very fortunate that I did learn about the importance of sun protection when I was in my 20s.
Thank you Karen for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.