(Sun) smart, funny and kind.
I have very fair skin and auburn hair. I recall experiencing a couple of bad sunburns as a younger child and becoming more aware of sun protection from my late teens onwards. I think this was probably due to having a number of family members being diagnosed with melanoma.
I had my first skin biopsy (on my face) just last year - luckily it was good news. I also have quite sensitive skin and have had a lot of difficulty with sensitivity to sunscreens. I have tried many different formulations and brands to try to find something that my skin can manage.
That said, I am a big fan of sun-shirts, hats, umbrellas and decent sunglasses. All of these things have made me even more conscientious about protecting my skin and also of wanting to share this message with others.
I would tell my 16 year old self not so worry much about looking too pale in comparison with my friends who had what were typically considered to be "great Aussie tans." That my pale skin doesn't make me "unhealthy" rather it is just my natural complexion.
I would tell myself not to get upset at people who make jokes about the weather when I was using an umbrella in the sun… (if I had a dollar for every time someone made a smart remark about the weather when I was using an umbrella for the sun, I would be a very wealthy person by now!!) I would tell my teenage self that using a sun umbrella might even become fashionable someday.
I would say to myself that, in the future (and in my lifetime), we will start to question the stereotype of the beautiful Bronzed Aussie and begin to challenge it. That we will recognise the damage that the sun can have on our skin and we will start to focus on sun-safe practices in day-to-day life.
I would tell myself to continue to look after my skin every day by wearing sunscreen even on cloudy days.
Thank you Phoebe 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."