What is your name?
Hi, my name is Kate.
I love being around animals and the outdoors.
How did you discover your skin cancer / melanoma / skin condition and how long ago?
About 15 years ago I came up in a rash all over my body after being at the beach. After several months I was diagnosed with Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) - an autoimmune disorder that causes skin lesions, joint pain and other soft tissue problems. Exposure to sunlight and UV rays causes the disease to flare up. A flare up can feel a bit like a flu where you feel tired and achy and out of sorts as well as the rash.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
At first I avoided the sun like a vampire, but that meant missing out on activities I enjoy, like horse riding, swimming, playing outside with the dog.
I now do lots of outside activities but I cover myself head to toe with sun protective clothing and sunscreen. I keep UV sleeves and an easy zip-up swim top in the car for driving. I also get my skin checked every year for any nasties.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about sun protection?
If I had been able to live a day in my current skin when I was 16 and seen all of the wrinkles and spots, I hope I would have thought twice about trying to get a tan. In some ways I wish I had found out about my lupus earlier so I could have protected myself from the sun sooner and had less aged skin in my 50s.
What is so great these days is you see a lot of people taking better care of their skin in the sun. Having fair un-freckled skin is starting to be more attractive than having a tan, especially once you are a bit older, and the effects of those days of sunbaking start to show.
I am very glad to see how conscious parents are about not letting their kids get burnt these days. There is really no need for anyone to be self-conscious about covering up whether they are at the beach or in the car.
Whether you cover up for modesty, or to protect your skin from ageing, or to prevent a future melanoma, I think the end result is that be fewer people will have their lives impacted by skin cancer and that is a great thing.
Pictured: This is me in my long-sleeve, high-collar Solbari top with sunscreen on, getting ready to go horse-riding.
Thank you Kate for helping raise awareness for lupus, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.