What is your name?
Describe yourself in 3 to 5 words.
Intelligent, curious, diligent, friendly.
How did you discover your skin cancer / melanoma / skin condition and how long ago?
I had a mole on my arm for as long as I remember. I even had it checked at a skin clinic about 4 years ago, and was assured that it was normal. I attended my doctor for a routine skin check in November 2018. We focussed mainly on my back. As I was leaving the doctor's office, he asked about the mole on my arm. I said I'd had it checked and it was fine. He insisted we biopsy it. The diagnosis: early stage melanoma.
I consider myself very lucky to have a thorough and diligent doctor. As a single mother, not being around to raise my 5 year old son is simply not an option. I had a wide excision and have been left with a pretty impressive scar on my arm.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
I've always been very diligent with sun protection - sunscreen, hats and umbrellas. To the point that it's now a standing joke with my friends and family. I had more than one person comment after I was diagnosed with melanoma, "you, of all people??!". So it has strengthened what was already a very cautious approach to sun exposure.
I was a fair skin child growing up in the Northern Territory before we understood the dangers. I had too many severe sunburns to count. My message to others - even if you've copped a lot of sun in your childhood, it's never too late to protect your skin. Sun exposure is cumulative. And I'm super careful with my child, who at the age of 5 has never had a sunburn.
What would you tell your 16 year old self about sun protection?
Continue to be diligent and cautious about the sun. Ignore everyone who thinks this is daggy or uncool. You'll thank your younger self in years to come, and over time, sun protection will become more accepted.
Thank you Rachel for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.