Living in Queensland, being a mother of three fair-skinned, freckly red-headed children (all currently under the age of five) and having had a sun spot recently removed from my face, I take sun protection much more seriously than ever before.
My level of sun exposure as a child was relatively low 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!
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.