I’ve heard a lot about skin cancer over the years, but it just tends to be just a whole lot of number of things like skin cancer treatments each year. The volume of treatments exceeds 750,000 in Australia, which is almost the population of ACT and Tasmania combined.  It is massive.  But it can sometimes be difficult to relate this information to our own lives unless we are one of those unlucky ones (or should I say unlucky many). And don’t forget the number of deaths which is much too high at approximately 2,000 people per year.

So think if it this way; what if you were told that because of skin cancer treatment you couldn’t work for a few months? Too many people think that skin cancers can just be removed through minor surgery and choose to ignore those cases that involve major surgery, chemotherapy or even death.  Not being able to work because you are being treated for cancer can put a huge financial strain on your family, especially if you are the main income earner or get stuck with large out-of-pocket medical expenses (and don’t start me on this because you would be astounded at the out-of-pocket expenses for cancer treatments….it’s criminal).

Okay, and say you are lucky and your skin cancer can be removed by minor surgery, then there is still the physical recovery and scarring to keep in mind. The most common skin cancers; basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) commonly occur on the face, nose, lip, ears or neck, and if removed by surgery, can leave disfiguring scars which are difficult to hide.  Unfortunately people who have this treatment risk bearing the scars on this experience in a prominent place for the rest of their lives.

And you know, I am a little averse to talking about feelings, but people confronted with the diagnosis of melanoma can find this incredibly distressing, as they are facing a potentially life threatening cancer that may require major surgery and chemotherapy. And one of the hardest battles with cancer is the uncertainty.  Not knowing if the treatment will work, not knowing if you will survive, or knowing that even if you beat it this time, it may return.  For others who have had a large section of skin removed with the cancer, the challenge can be looking in the mirror and not recognising the person who looks back.

Look I don’t want to shove it down your throat (or talk about emotions anymore), but the cost of skin cancer is way too high a price for any of us to pay, especially when skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers in Australia. So join me in being smart and using sun protection when working outdoors.