Kiwi Skin Stories, Skin Checks, Melanoma Awareness
The daunting feeling that comes with getting a skin check is a funny one. Why is it that when presented with an opportunity to be self-aware and prevent further health problems, we’re frightened of it? It’s most likely the emotional burden of an unpleasant outcome, but perhaps it also stems from a lack of education on what exactly to expect?
Late last year I decided to bite the bullet and book in for a skin check. I had been speaking to a woman, a similar age to me, who had a melanoma removed from her back. She wasn’t overly freckly, covered in moles, a ‘tanaholic’ or any other definitions of people we’d expect to be susceptible to this type of cancer.
She was just your average early 20’s female - who had never had a skin check. Her story pushed me to make myself, any anyone around me who would listen, aware of the dangers we’re exposed to in the harsh NZ sun. Our summer should be something we can safely enjoy knowing we’re protected for years and years to come.
My skin-check experience was not what I had dreamt up in my head. I expected to be poked and prodded and spun in all different directions while someone in a lab coat mumbled words I didn’t understand about moles and UV exposure. Goodness knows where I’d gotten that from, we’re pretty lucky in New Zealand to have health care to be proud of.
But anyway- my experience was far from that. My melanographer was polite, friendly and relatable, something I put huge emphasis on because getting down to your underwear for a lot of people is no mean feat. We chatted about all things (I have a tendency to talk) and before you know it, I was done.
At the appointment, I’d been checked head to toe and made aware of any moles I may not have seen (girls, a good place to check is your scalp!) and I’d had any questions or concerns answered. A short while later, I was sent a web link that gave me access to my online portal and my skin check results.
Thankfully I can’t tell you much about the rest of the service because I was told I have no moles to be concerned about at this stage. From here however, the team is right there offering support and your next steps.
My summer this year has been a little different. I have always been somewhat sun-safe, wearing SPF when I go to the beach or remembering to apply face sunscreen before makeup on a hot day. But this one has opened my eyes. We don’t take our sun seriously enough - it brings with it warm summer's days and fond memories around the BBQ or with a volleyball at the beach, but it also brings with it alarming statistics. We have the world’s second highest melanoma incidence rate, and that’s not something to be proud of.
Make this the year you book in for a skin check - and at the very least, slip, slop, slap & wrap.
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