As the youngest of 4 children, growing up in a middle class family in Western Sydney NSW, Summer days were spent in the backyard pool (because I thought I was a mermaid) and our family holiday every year was 4 weeks in Northern NSW, a little beach town called Brunswick Heads just near Byron Bay. Those holidays consisted of fishing, picnicking and BBQ’s. Walking for miles and miles on deserted beaches following my Dad chasing where the fish were, just wearing our swimmers and eating sandy sandwiches and drinking hot sandy cordial.
All of us sunburnt and blissfully unaware what would happen years later. Sun protection was not a thing then. Ever. Being a Fitzpatrick I/II it should have been.
In the past 15 years my Father had had quite a few BCC’s removed - Basal Cell Carcinoma’s. Dad used to call them ‘barnacles’
One of those barnacles on the top of his head would just not go away, even after creams and removal, the damn thing just kept coming back. That barnacle turned out to be a stage 4 melonoma. Dad underwent surgery and radiation to get rid of that barnacle. Within 12 months the radiation to his head had increased the onset of dementia and we said our final goodbye in 2018.
My first BCC appeared 12 months ago, unaware until my ear became sore to the touch and itchy. My barnacle was on the very edge of my ear I immediately booked into a skin specialist and he took a biopsy. That week was real and raw, just waiting for the results. I got the call saying it needed immediate removal. My specialist had to cut away the affected area around the cartilage to remove the cancerous cells. The cut ended up being over an inch and a half long.
The healing process has taken a while and it still is a bit sore at times, but the scare was very real. I now need to book skin checks every 6 months because of family history and my skin type. As it turns out my brother has had a lot of barnacles removed and my eldest sister has had a couple too.
I have never been a hat person, now I am. Nearly every skin care product I buy has got SPF in it and I make sure my daughter has it in her’s too. I still swim in our pool like the mermaid that I am and we go to the beach a lot as we live near our old holiday place in Northern NSW, but I make sure we all wear skin protection and reapply it regularly.
Having a suntan when I was younger made me feel confident but now I either have a Spray Tan - Minx Tan of course - Violet Sunset or I self tan with 15% Souffle in Dark.
I glow when I am confident, and I am confident when I glow, And I miss my Dad every damn day.