Hi, my name is Kate.
I love being around animals and the outdoors.
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.
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.
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 mylong-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.
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."