Most men know, if you cover something, it lasts longer. Unfortunately, many don’t always apply the same rules to themselves.
A new study revealed men are great at protecting loved ones and their belongings from damaging UV exposure. Children are very well protected – and even the car, deck and barbecue get covered up.
However, less than half agreed that sun protection was part of their daily routine (49%) and less than one in three used sunscreen (29%) and stayed in the shade (30%) on summer weekends.
Results of the 2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™) found 79% of men surveyed agreed that if they regularly protect themselves from the sun, they can avoid skin cancer. 71% of men were aware that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills more men than women each year.
In short, many men know what to do and why, yet still they don’t.
The Same goes for you SunSmart campaign funded by the Victorian Government has been developed to prompt men to rethink their approach when it comes to sun protection.
The TV-led campaign shows a dad protecting household items he cares about from harmful UV. His young son then points out the irony that he’s forgotten to protect his own skin.
An image from the Same goes for you campaign
Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria said the campaign was designed to be relatable for men and to help them see how ironic it is to protect your children and your ‘stuff’ from damaging effects of UV but not your own skin.
In particular, he hopes the message that it’s never too late to protect your skin stands out.
“Many men may not realise that sun protection is critical at any age, even if you think the damage was done early on in life. The risk of skin cancer being realised can be significantly reduced by protecting your skin at any age,” Mr Sinclair said.
54-year-old Warren Penna knows all too well the risks associated with too much UV.
Growing up in regional Victoria, Warren loved spending time in the sun. His love of the outdoors continued into adulthood working as a horticulturist for over 25 years.
In 2017, Warren was diagnosed with a melanoma on his right arm. The melanoma was quickly removed with wide margins but sadly, in 2019, the melanoma came back. And this time it was stage 4 and had spread to his brain, liver and lungs.
“I thought to myself, this couldn’t be right, I’m a healthy person. But when I saw the scans and the size of the tumours I thought, wow gosh…. I was sure I was going to die.”
Warren (left) and Gregg (right) on their wedding day.
Warren has undergone multiple surgeries including brain surgery as well as a gruelling schedule of immunotherapy for the last 18 months. The toll the diagnosis and treatment has taken on Warren and his partner has been immense.
“For the best part of 18 months I felt like I was in limbo land and that I couldn’t plan for the future. I had to give up work and I spent most of my days at Peter Mac. I often contemplated by own mortality and the meaning of life,” shared Warren.
“Every scan played hell with my mental health. My mind took me to some dark places that weren’t real. I had to try really hard not to bring everyone around me down on those days.
“Gregg (my partner) has been my rock through all this. He has suffered just as much as I have.”
After being forced to dig deep every day and face seemingly insurmountable challenges, Warren appears to have beaten the odds.
“I didn’t think I’d make my next birthday this time last year. Miracles can happen.”
Warren is acutely aware that he’s one of the lucky ones and that many others with a stage 4 melanoma diagnosis are not as fortunate.
“If I could spare even one other person the colossal physical and emotional rollercoaster I’ve experienced, I would. And to think this experience could’ve largely been avoided by using good sun protection,” said Warren.
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. In Victoria in 2019, over 2,800 Victorians were diagnosed with melanoma and 270 lost their lives to the disease. Sadly, twice as many men as women died from the disease that same year.
We’re urging men to give sun protection complacency the Slip, Slop, Slap and use the five forms of sun protection when the UV is 3 and above.
- Slip on loose protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
- Slop on SPF30 or higher, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours.
- Slap on a broadbrim, bucket or legionnaires-style hat that covers the face, neck and ears.
- Seek shade wherever possible outside; particularly in the middle of the day when the UV is highest.
- Slide on close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that cover as much of the eye area as possible and that meet the Australian Standards.
If doing it for themselves isn’t appealing, we’d encourage them to think about those they care about – and do it for them instead.
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