These days, messages about the importance of sun safety are everywhere – so much so that it can be easy to get a little blasé about protecting ourselves against dangerous UV rays.
Everyone is (or should be) aware of the damage that too much unprotected time in the sun can do – cancer being the most nasty consequence.
So, when East Seaham resident Kevin McDonald wrote to the Herald to share his cautionary tale, Topics thought it was a perfect example of why it’s so important to slip, slop, slap, wrap and do anything else necessary to protect yourself from the sun.
Mr McDonald, 82, was so taken with an opinion piece that ran in this newspaper last week (‘I’m judging you at the beach’) that he was inspired to share two selfies that show how sun damage over the course of his life has affected him. In 2014, after having some squamous cell carcinomas (cancer) removed from his face and scalp, doctors told him that cancer cells were heading towards his lymph glands – it’s very bad news if they get to those glands – and the best course of action would be to surgically remove his nose.
“When I was a lot younger (I’m now 82) I was a typical outdoor Aussie, seldom wearing a hat. My skin was being damaged. Years later there was a price to pay,” Mr McDonald wrote.
“Thus these days I wear a prosthetic nose attached to my spectacles. I look okay with it on, but I am not a pretty sight with it off. Six monthly post-op visits have been necessary to keep a check on my skin.
“If anyone needs convincing about the damaging power of the sun, simply place a brick on a sheet of paper and leave the experiment out in the sun for a few days. On removing the brick, you will see what I mean. And the damage is permanent. Your skin cells carry a legacy of excessive solar radiation, but the damage may not manifest itself until many years have passed.”
With the weather tipped to heat up again in the next few days, have a think about Mr McDonald’s story before you race out into the sun without protection.
Speaking of summer, the sun and such things, anyone who’s looking for a free legal tip or two can head to the beach, with appropriate protection of course. It’ll be the 15th year that the University of Newcastle runs its Law on the Beach program, which offers free legal advice. Lawyers, law students and social work students will give advice on traffic fines, discrimination and everything in between. If you’re interested, visit Newcastle Surf Club on a Wednesday between 9.30am and 2.30pm from January 24 to February 21 – though the February 14 session will take place on level five at the uni’s New Space building. No need to book.
Shaun McCarthy, chief of the uni’s legal centre, said this year’s focus would be on helping young people “stand up for themselves” in legal matters. But he said anyone was welcome to seek help.
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