Growing up in the islands I was always pretty brown – we were outside most of the time and we had nice golden tans without too much of an effort really. There were times when we’d go lay out on the roof of our garage covered in mono’i oil to catch some rays cos we were all about that tan life lol but for the most part we had natural tans from growing up on an island where there was no winter.
Coming back to live in NZ we lost our tans pretty quickly after the first winter and then you really notice the sun is a lot more harsh here than back in the islands and you can get sunburnt instead of a tan!
My Mum who is a registered nurse has always cautioned us about the effects of the sun on your skin and I’ve always been conscious of it and have tried to make sure I don’t get burnt or lay out too long. She’s always reminded us when we’ve been laying out in the sun tanning that although our skin is brown we’re half white too “Don’t forget your grandmother is a very fair skinned, red head woman so you need to look after your skin”.
Mono’i is THE oil – Gotta have it even in Vegas lol BUT Mono’is only SPF 3 and for the NZ sun most experts would recommend at least SPF 15 – 30
I also have a few moles which ironically are from my Samoan Dads mothers side. After moving back to NZ where the sun is WAY harsher than in the islands Mums always reminded me to get them checked regularly and I’ve had 3 removed. A couple on my face & one near my hip.
Things to look out for with moles = Growth and change in colour.
A couple of months ago we were all out at dinner celebrating one of my besties (Vanessa) birthday and one of her childhood besties Michelle was there and the conversation turned to her partner who we’d heard had been really unwell. It turned out he’d actually been diagnosed with melanoma and was undergoing quite extensive treatment for it. I asked how they found it and she told us how it had started with a mole which grew, turned a funny colour and then if I remember correctly became itchy?! She said a few people had told him to get it checked but he’d kind of procrastinated on it until he finally did get it checked and then it turned out it was cancerous which was a huge shock to them and he’d had to have it quite a huge area of his back cut out to try and get as much of the cancer as they could. I haven’t seen Michelle since Ness’ bday dinner but I really hope everything’s going well with her partners treatment and the doctors were able to get all of it.
A couple of weeks later I’m brushing my teeth looking in the mirror and I noticed one of my moles had grown and also turned a funny colour. Ok so I’m usually the QUEEN of procrastination and I probably would’ve made a mental note to self ‘I must get that looked at’ type thing but I think Michelles story was still fresh in my mind which kind of prompted me into action and so I went to the doctors and he checked it and told me he didn’t like the the look of it and wanted to remove it.
The mole below my collar bone in this photo (taken a couple of years ago) is the one that I had to have removed. It had grown and half of it turned a kind of light brown/pinky type colour.
So a couple of weeks ago I had the mole cut out and last week got the stitches out (which was fricken sorer than the mole getting cut out btw – I guess they don’t anaesthetise the area when they take the stitches out and plus the nurse kept stabbing me with her tweezers lol) I’ve also had the results and thankfully it wasn’t a melanoma.
I know it’s hard to believe if you’re living in Auckland but summer is actually around the corner and I wanted to share this post – not to freak people out but to give you a friendly reminder to be safe out in the sun. Slip, slop, slap – cover up and look after your summer skin! Yeah, you know I’ll still be aiming to get some kind of tan but don’t let your skin burn and keep in mind that NZs sun is HARSH.
According to the NZ Cancer Society …
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand, with New Zealanders at high risk of developing a skin cancer during their lifetime. Our skin cancer rates are among the highest in the world. Melanoma incidence rates in Australia and New Zealand are around four times as high as those found in Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom.
New Zealand’s high skin cancer rates are due to:
- the high levels of UVR in New Zealand during daylight savings months;
- low ozone levels over New Zealand;
- our outdoor lifestyle and tendency to ‘seek the sun’; and,
- the high proportion of people with fair skin. Light skin and eye colour, large numbers of moles and excessive sun exposure (particularly intermittent episodes of sunburn), especially in childhood and adolescence, can increase your risk of skin cancer.
Yet, skin cancer is readily preventable. Over 90% of all skin cancer cases in high UVR environments like New Zealand are attributed to excess exposure to UVR. That is why the Cancer Society sees the promotion of skin cancer prevention and early detection as a central component of its work.
If you would like more information on Mole mapping your local GP will have information and can also check your moles for you. or you can check out this site Molemap.co.nz
Better living everybody!