Tell us who you are, what you do and where you’re from.
I’m Ash from Sydney. I’m a mum, wife, makeup artist among many other things like a lot of us.
What was your attitude to sun protection before you were diagnosed?
I’ve always been very sun conscious. Being a strawberry blonde with fair skin I’ve never sun-baked and I’ve been pretty good at wearing sunscreen daily for the past 10 or so years.
What kind of skin cancer were you diagnosed with?
I was diagnosed with a BCC (Basal Cell Carcinoma)
How did you discover your skin cancer and how long ago?
My skin cancer looked like not much at all. It was on my nose, near the fold of my nostril and when I first noticed it, I thought it was just a blackhead or spot. It was barely raised, it was skin colour and was pretty easy to pass off as nothing. In Feb 2021 I decided I should get it checked and I wish I’d gone sooner so it could have been picked up quicker meaning I wouldn’t have had to have as big of surgery to have it removed.
How did you feel when you were diagnosed?
I was surprised because as I mentioned I’ve always been very sun conscious but as the Dr explained to me, it can be as simple as one burn when you were young (and of course that had happened at points) or just a small amount of exposure over time. BCC’s are very common.
What were your treatment options? What did you decide on and why?
Because it had gone unchecked for a while my only option was to have it surgically removed. The skin specialist decided to refer me to a Plastic Surgeon because it was on my face.
What were surgery and post-surgery like?
The surgery was very quick and straight forwards. I don’t think it took any longer than 15mins on the table. I just had a local anaesthetic so I was awake for it and it was completely fine. Post-surgery the recovery was a little more than I bargained for. They said I could expect some bruising but I wasn’t expecting the bruising to get as bad as it did, though I’ll admit I do bruise quite easily. I slept sitting up for a few nights to minimise the swelling and only needed Panadol the first 2 days. It wasn’t overly painful but it was a little uncomfortable for a few days.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
The same as it was but I’m even more intense about it now so that means reapplying more often, extra sun measures like the amazing Solbari driving gloves which I’m obsessed with. I’ll also be sure to more on top of skin checks yearly.
What are your best sun protection tips?
Sunscreen every day, even in the wintertime and even when you aren’t intending to be out in the sun for a long period. Cover up when you can and stay out of the sun. Get your skin checked yearly and any time you notice any changes.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about taking care of your skin and sun protection?
Just wear sunscreen. While from my early 20’s I was good about wearing sunscreen daily the damage from my teen years was already done, even though I was never a sunseeker.
What do you wish others knew about skin cancer?
It really can affect anyone even if you think that you don’t really go in the sun or you’re good with protection so you’re not at risk. The best thing you can do is to take measures yourself and get checked by a professional regularly to be safe.
Sun urticaria, more commonly known as an allergy to the sun, has its fair share of difficulties. And yet, the season most often associated with sun burns is not, according to this Solbari customer, the most precarious when it comes to his sun allergy.