Adine’s sun safety message for parents
Adine’s sun safety message for parents
Adine Wilson wasn't particularly concerned when she noticed that a small freckle on her arm had changed colour. “I knew I should get it checked, but I was really busy and I kept putting it off.”
It wasn't until the freckle started to get itchy that the then Silver Fern went to see the doctor. The spot was removed and sent off to be checked.
“I got a phone call asking me to pop into the doctor’s. I was going to see her a few days later anyway to get the stitches out, so I asked if I could wait till then. It wasn’t until the doctor said she needed to see me today that I started to get worried!”
At the doctor’s, Adine was told she had melanoma.
“I was 25 years old, I had no family history of skin cancer, it was a real shock.”
Adine had more skin removed on her upper arm. Today she is clear of melanoma but still checks her skin regularly, and has yearly checks with a dermatologist.
She believes her love of the sun had a lot to do with her freckle turning into skin cancer.
“As a child and teenager growing up in Taranaki, I was always outside in the sun. I was climbing trees, playing tennis, out on the farm. I don't ever remember covering up against the sun or using sunscreen.
“And I continued to get lots of sun as an adult. When I was diagnosed with melanoma I had to see a dermatologist, and when I went for the appointment I was sunburned. I was so embarrassed!”
These days Adine is extremely careful to protect herself against the sun – and to protect 18 month old son Harper.
“Harper is really blond, and like all young children, his skin burns really easily. Whenever we’re out in the sun I'm very careful to make sure he’s covered up with hats and shirts, and that he has on sunscreen.
“He doesn't go outside in summer without protection against the sun, and that’s a really good habit to get into.”
Following her brush with skin cancer, Adine is lending her support to the SunSmart message. She is also the Melanoma Foundation’s ambassador.
She says the message to parents is simple – never let your child get sunburnt.
“And that goes for children of all ages, not just littlies. Getting sunburnt as a child increases your chances of getting melanoma as an adult – and none of us want that for our children.
“We all love getting out and about in the New Zealand summer, but you can have fun outdoors, and still be safe from sunburn by following the slip, slop, slap and wrap rules.”
For more information about SunSmart see www.sunsmart.org.nz. For information about the Melanoma Foundation see www.melanoma.org.nz. The Cancer Society’s website is www.cancernz.org.nz.
SunSmart Week runs from 8 to 14 November.
• Avoid sunburn.
• Never let your children get sunburnt. Sunburn in childhood and adolescence is strongly linked to melanoma in later life.
• Always make sure you and your family are sun safe. Getting caught out (acute intermittent sunburn) could pose a serious health risk later in life.
• It is not the sun’s heat that burns but ultraviolet radiation (UVR).
• UV radiation levels are at their highest between September and April, especially between 11am and 4pm.
• The Ultraviolet Index (UVI) measures UVR intensity. When the UVI is 3 or above we need to follow the slip, slop, slap and wrap rules.
• Don't rely on sunscreen alone. Wear sun protective clothing (shirts with collars and long sleeves), a broad-brimmed hat, use sunscreen on exposed skin, wear sunglasses, stay in the shade whenever possible and avoid being outdoors during the middle of the day.
• There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ tan – any change in the colour of the skin is a sign that damage has taken place.
• All types of sunburn, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage and lay the groundwork for skin cancer in later life.
• Sensible sun protection behaviour in summer should not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
• During the summer months, adequate vitamin D levels can potentially be achieved through sun exposure received during typical outdoor activities outside of peak UVI times.