Why Did I Get Skin Cancer? Join the #SunSensePledge

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Say that post title with the emphasis on the “I”. Why did I get skin cancer? Why me? Why am I laying in a hospital bed on the hottest day of the year so far, expected to live for a couple more weeks, at the age of 27?

Why am I facing the thought of everything I imagined achieving in my life, a family, a home that I am proud of, and a career that makes me happy, being taken away before I even got started?

I have asked myself these questions (and more!) a million times over.

Today is a stark reminder of everything that I faced nearly three years ago. I’m tapping away at this blog post whilst Teddy naps, hoping that he sleeps for long enough to cope with some shorter, on the go, naps as we head into hospital this afternoon.

As I take my baby boy with me whilst I have my head, abdomen and pelvis scanned in the hope that the cancer is still at bay.

These scans have never meant more to me than they do now. I can’t bear the thought of ever leaving my little boy.

But could I have avoided all of this?

Why did I get skin cancer?

Well, maybe it’s because I simply wasn’t careful enough when I was in my early teens. It’s a thought that haunts me almost every single day.

I can see myself now. Strolling along the seafront that felt so familiar to me, a place that I grew up just a few streets away from.

Strolling along with my best friend by my side, and the sun on my back. The sun on my back. And no sunscreen.

I arrived home burnt to a crisp. I blistered. I Googled “skin cancer”. I was thirteen.

I’m writing this with a lump in my throat, because I’ve actually never told anyone that.

That wasn’t the only time I was burnt as a young teen. What about the time I had to spend the day outside the head teachers office because I’d worn my bikini top under my school shirt. It was against the rules, but it was the only thing I could bear to wear against my burnt shoulders.

Is this why I got skin cancer? Fast forward 7 years and I’m having a cancerous mole removed from my back.

9 years after that, my liver is filled with tumours, with a couple chucked onto my lung for good measure.

That is Stage 4 Malignant Melanoma, aka skin cancer. And no, it’s not as simple as “just cutting it out”. I’ve heard that reference towards skin cancer so many times, and I just want to shake people as I tell them just how serious it is. Read more about my experience here.

So, what would I tell my younger self?

WEAR THE SUNSCREEN. Yes, in capital letters. I would shout at myself and say, wear the sunscreen. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Did I think I was invincible? Yes, probably. Don’t we all? Except, we’re not.

Fancy some pretty shocking facts? Let me get all technical on you…

  • Melanoma now kills more Brits than Australians (1,2)
  • 60% of people damaged their skin in the UK sun last year (3)
  • 70% of people only wear sunscreen on holiday or sunny days (3)
  • When the UV index is 3 or more, the sun is strong enough to cause sun damage (4)
  • The average UV index is above 4 in London from April to September (5)

We have got a lot to learn from the Australians. Their focus on sun safety encourages applying sunscreen as part of everyday life, seeking shade and covering up.

But we simply don’t do that in the UK. How often have you thought that it’s too cloudy, or too chilly, to worry about sunscreen?

The #SunSensePledge

I’m pretty proud of my little corner of the internet. I’ve built up a community of lovely people. Fellow mamas, and like minded guys and girls.

I’m constantly thinking about how I can use my platform for good, to spread a message that I feel passionate about.

So when SunSense got in touch with me to explain their #SunSensePledge, encouraging the UK to follow in Australia’s footsteps and use sunscreen daily to help prevent skin cancer later in life, I agreed to work with them instantly. This feels SO aligned to everything I want to portray online.

The sunscreen products…

As you can imagine, I have tried a lot of sunscreen products in the past, and I can honestly tell you that SunSense surpasses anything I have ever tried before. I’ve got three favourites that I really want to tell you guys about.

SunSense Lip Balm SPF 50+ sunscreen

I love love love  the consistency of the SunSense Lip Balm SPF50+, it feels protective and moisturising, and I really like the finish. An SPF lip balm is something that is so important to me, it’s things like lips, ears and eyelids that always get missed!

On the subject of ears and eyelids, I also love SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+. Not only does it offer the protection I need, but it gives a really lovely base, and make up applies really well on top. It also contains Vitamin E to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin’s elasticity, I’ll take a bit of that after sleepless nights and running around after Teddy all day!

SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+ sunscreen

And of course, SunSense Ultra SPF 50+. This is hands down the lightest sunscreen I have ever used in my life. That sticky feeling you so often get with sunscreen? The one that probably puts you off using it as much as you know you should? There is none of that. Honestly, I’m not just running you a line because I’m working with SunSense. It is light to apply, sinks into the skin quickly and goes completely unnoticed.

I’m pledging to wear sunscreen every day, will you?

So in support of the #SunSensePledge, I am pledging to wear sunscreen every single day. Every change that you make now to reduce UV getting to your skin will reduce your risk of sun damage later in life, so will you pledge to wear sunscreen every day?

You can win a SunSense bundle over on their website when you join the pledge.

So yes, I have banged my drum until I’m blue in the face a bit here haven’t I? I just can’t stress the importance of sun protection enough, and what can happen if you ignore it. I hope my story has made a difference to you today.

To learn more about my journey, I’d love it if you had a watch of the video I created with SunSense…click here to have a nosy on their YouTube.

Let’s all hold each other accountable, come on over to my Instagram and tell me when you have applied your sunscreen for the day!

 

 

1 Cancer Research UK,  Melanoma skin cancer statistics (Internet) 2019 (cited 2019 April 8) Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/melanoma-skin-cancer

2 Cancer Council, Melanoma (Internet) 2019 (cited 2019 April 24) Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer/melanoma.html

3 SunSense 2018 summer survey

4 Cancer Research UK, Causes of Cancer, (Internet) 2019 (cited 2019 April 8) Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/am-i-at-risk-of-sunburn

5 Weather Atlas, Forecast and Climate London (Internet) 2019 (cited 2019 April 8) Available from: https://www.weather-gb.com/en/united-kingdom/london-climate

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