Cover up in summer, you’ll last longer

November 23, 2021 BY

Tim Peterson features in the new Sunsmart campaign. Photo: SUPPLIED

As Victoria enters the summer months and COVID restrictions ease, SunSmart is reminding Victorians to use sun protection as they enjoy their newfound freedoms.

Launched earlier this month, the campaign is specifically targeting men after a national Cancer Council study showed they are neglecting certain body parts when it comes to sun protection.

The campaign’s tagline “When you cover things, they last longer: same goes for you” urges men to cover themselves just as much as they protect their loved ones and their belongings.

The ad depicts a dad covering up his beloved barbecue from the sun before his son points out he should be protecting himself as well.

Results from the 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey found males who were sunburnt on summer weekends were more likely than females to report having been burnt on the following body parts:

  • Nose (43 per cent compared to females at 24 per cent)
  • Ears (28 per cent compared to females at 7 per cent)
  • Legs (26 per cent compared to females at 13 per cent)
  • Back of the knees (12 per cent compared to females at 1 per cent).

Despite 79 per cent of men agreeing that if they regularly protected themselves from the sun they could avoid skin cancer, less than half agreed that sun protection was part of their daily routine (49 per cent).

When it comes to the five recommended forms of sun protection, it was found that when outdoors on summer weekends, less than a third of men slipped on protective clothing, slopped on sunscreen, slapped on a wide-brimmed hat, or sought out shade. However, about half of men surveyed reported they slid on a pair of sunglasses when heading outside.

Tim Peterson, an environmental engineer and lecturer, first noticed an odd spot on his left arm in early 2019.

“The spot was sunset pink and raised. It looked different but I felt too busy to follow it up at the time, so I left it,” he said.

Later in the year, prompted by a change in jobs, the 45-year-old father of two had the spot looked at. It was stage 2B nodular melanoma. The spot was surgically removed requiring a depth of 20mm through the first layer of muscle and wide margins leaving a 9cm scar. Tim then started immunotherapy.

In early 2020, a second lump was identified only 4cm from the original site. After an anxious wait for the biopsy and the results, a second surgery followed, revealing another melanoma.

Tim underwent eight months of immunotherapy which required lengthy periods spent in the chair and assessments to check if the body could handle another cycle. He also suffered quite harsh side effects.

After a family holiday of rock climbing and mountain biking in June 2021, Tim found another lump. The spot was removed, as well as another micro satellite near the original spot.

“It’s been really hard to reconcile these past two years and the knowledge that you’re never really cured from melanoma. It feels a bit like a life sentence,” Tim said.

“I’ve seen the toll these past two years have taken on my wife and family and it’s been hard to watch.

“As partners and dads, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to keep ourselves safe and healthy for those close to us. In most cases skin cancer can be easily prevented with sun protection – we just need to step up and do it.”

For more information, head to the SunSmart website.

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