What is your name?
My name is Venetia Vernon.
I am originally from the UK but came to Australia in 1993 when I was 25. I live in Queensland. My level of sun exposure as a child was relatively low coming from England however I did use a sunbed from time to time back in the 1980's when it was recommended that you prepare your skin before heading over to Europe! How wrong was that advice!
How did you discover your skin cancer / melanoma / skin condition and how long ago?
Since being in Queensland I have always been quite conscious of the harsh sun but maybe not as diligent as I should have been. Luckily, I had been having annual skin checks when I was diagnosed with a very early stage of Melanoma on my back in 2016. This came as quite a shock, especially having just gone through chemotherapy for lymphoma the previous year. Fortunately, my skin cancer treatment required only a wide excision. I had no family history of Melanoma.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
Now I am very aware of my sun exposure both when I am spending time outdoors and all the incidental exposure you get, for example in hanging out the washing. I prefer to cover up with long sleeve clothing and long trousers over sun screen if at all possible. I always use 50+ sunscreen on my face and neck. I wear gloves to drive in, wear a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses and sometimes use an umbrella for extra shade. I wear a Solbari long sleeve polo almost every day.
I also have regular skin checks. I drill the sun-safe message into my teenage boys and they have also started to have annual skin checks. Melanoma can also strike young people and there is a potential genetic link.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about sun protection?
Forget the suntan, cover up, definitely don't use the sunbed and embrace clear, non sun-damaged skin. You will also look younger for it.
Thank you Venetia for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.