Sun protection for me is a way of life so I can still participate in all of the things that I enjoy in this world. I have always placed a high priority on protecting my skin from the sun. This has involved making small and achievable adjustments to my daily life, both in terms of the clothing that I wear and the times of day that I choose to pursue outdoor activities.
I attended my doctor for a routine skin check and 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.
My first experience with sunburn was when I was four years old. My parents took the family to the beach... as there was not a lot of publicity around sunburn/cover up back then the end result was severe sunburn on my shoulders and back. The treatment back then was calamine lotion and lots of it.
I have very fair skin and am quite sensitive to sunlight. Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with a high white blood cell count and photosensitivity to sunlight and face the possibility of having lupus. Whilst the medical profession are still undecided about this I have over time decided to be proactive about my skin health.
In my early 20s I developed a butterfly rash on my face that wouldn't go away. I was quickly diagnosed with discoid lupus and my specialist stressed that it was very important for me to stay protected from the sun. This was in the early 80s and I was living in Queensland, so it was a tough call.
I grew up in an era were weekends were beach clad bikini baby oiled affairs and a sun tan the most fashionable accessory. Looking back I am horrified at understanding the damage all those hours in the sun were actually doing and I am paying the price for now. Dozens of sun spots, a Basal Cell Carcinoma, and SCLE lupus. My visits to the beach and time outdoors are now spent very differently.