I guess as you get older you realise health is everything. Nowadays when we have the precious grandchildren I am the first to put hats on them and sunscreen. When I was, younger there was no awareness of skin cancers.
In my mid-twenties, I saw my darling grandmother lose large parts of her nose to skin cancer, which made me think more carefully about how much sun exposure I was receiving. I decided to start getting regular skin checks and encouraged my family to do so too.
Having sun sensitive skin, sun protection is very important as I noticed more and more moles appear in recent years in my neck and chest areas. I have to freeze some of them as they grow big with constant itchiness. I also developed chronic skin rash on leg areas which affect daily life badly.
I moved to Australia over 10 years ago. I grew up in northern Europe and it took me a few years to re-calibrate my inner compass and my approach to sun protection! At first I was not paying any attention to Australian sun at all. Once I learned about the risks, my attitude change 180 degrees.
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.
I think that the sun is dangerous and that we need PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect ourselves from sun light. I feel annoyed that my parents lied to me and told me the sun is good for my health, and that they encouraged me to spend time in the sun which I now understand is dangerous. Now that I know this, I plan to always wear clothes which are UPF50+ or better with good sunglasses.
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.