17 May 2018
I have seen too many of my family members go through cancer. I’ve lost my mother, younger brother, husband, and then in August 2015, I lost my only son, Sam. There’s more about Sam’s experience here.
But I am determined to not let their deaths be in vain. More than one in three cancers can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle alone. Add in getting screened regularly for bowel, breast and cervical cancer, and it jumps to one in two. That’s why I’m helping Cancer Council SA to spread their life-saving prevention messages to as many people as possible. I can only hope that you won’t wait for cancer to impact your loved ones before you take action.
1. Be SunSmart
Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, but so many people are putting themselves at increased risk on a regular basis. In fact, 15 per cent of Australians report getting burnt on an average summer weekend. It is no wonder that 80 per cent of cancers diagnosed in Australia are skin cancer.
Australia has one of the highest incidences of melanoma in the world, and it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in people aged 15–29.
There’s no substitute for being SunSmart―that includes Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide behaviours when the UV is 3 and above to minimise your risk of permanent skin damage which can increase your risk of skin cancer. There’s a SunSmart app available to help you know when the UV is 3 and above.
2. Check your skin regularly
Melanoma is the least common but most serious skin cancer because it can grow quickly. If it isn’t treated quickly, it will spread to deeper layers of skin where it then spreads throughout the body.
My son, Sam, noticed a spot on his head, but he didn’t get it checked out right away. Instead, he put it off time and time again because he was ‘too busy’.
When he finally got around to making an appointment, we were told it was melanoma. He had it cut out, but that wasn’t the end of it. Even after being cancer free for five years, it came back and engulfed his body―just as he was getting used to being a dad.
Cancer Council SA has an easy-to-follow guide for checking yourself for skin changes. It only takes 10 minutes or so―just do it regularly before you hop in the shower.
3. Take control of your cancer screening schedule
It was only through attending his regular check-ups with the doctor that my husband John, found his cancer early. It meant that I got to enjoy five more glorious years with him at my side, before I lost him to a lung infection.
Please, know when you’re due for your next bowel, breast and cervical screening test, get to know your body and what is normal for you, and get regular check-ups at the doctor. We’re so lucky to live in a country where we have access to these tests―where we have the chance to catch cancer early when treatment is most effective.
4. Make a donation
Every donation that goes to Cancer Council SA funds cancer research, prevention and support programs. If you want to make a positive contribution that will go towards creating a world without cancer for your children, then this is it.
Please donate today to fund the programs that will deliver life-saving information about preventing, screening and finding cancer early to as many South Australians as possible.
You can learn more about Cancer Council SA’s prevention programs, too.
Thank you for helping me to stop more families being ripped apart by cancer.
P.S. If cancer has affected you or someone you love, I know that the compassionate nurses on Cancer Council 13 11 20 can provide confidential information and support to help you.