Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, with well over one million treatments each year for skin cancer. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation overexposure during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of future skin cancer. Schools can help to support…
As a newly graduated and enthusiastic teacher, Luke Myers knows about the importance of supporting his young students however he can, and that a simple act like him wearing a hat and sunscreen can have a big impact.
The now 24-year-old generalist teacher from Canning Vale Primary School in Perth’s south was just 21 years old when diagnosed with stage two melanoma.
Some spots of blood on his pillowcase made Luke think he just had an annoying scratch on his scalp. But after recurring bleeding and a visit to his GP, it was actually the beginning of a malignant melanoma which left a 10cm diameter scar on the back of Luke’s head.
On hearing his diagnosis, Luke said he was shocked and unsure about what it would mean. “I was sort of stunned by it, I just sort of sat there, not really recognising what was going on,” he said.
Luke’s extensive and ongoing treatment consisted of biopsies, surgeries, a skin graft, and immunotherapy treatment, whilst also working to complete his teaching degree during COVID. Now he sees his experience as a lesson for others. “My story is pretty uncommon, but it’s not something that’s unrealistic,” he said. “I got pretty bad sunburns as a kid, and you don’t think about the long-term outcome from that.”
He now feels strongly about educating those close to him. “An alarming number of kids approach me all the time, saying ‘I don’t need sunscreen, I don’t get sunburnt’. But it’s not as if it shows up on the top, it’s what’s underneath that is the dangerous part.
“It takes time to do things like apply sunscreen, but that time that you spend now gives you more time later on in your life to do what you want.” SunSmart Manager Sally Blane acknowledged Luke’s role in supporting the next generation to be SunSmart. “Luke’s courage to share his experience and educate his community on the importance of sun protection from a young age will have a lasting impact.”
“We know that SunSmart Schools like Beckenham do a great job at ensuring students are protected from UV while at school. Seeing Luke’s role modelling by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen will help these students understand why it is so important and embed simple measures into life-long habits.”
Become a SunSmart advocate for your school, visit www.GenerationSunSmart.com.au