What is your name?
Hello, I'm Kerryn.
Describe yourself in 3 to 5 words:
Positive, resilient, nature-loving, empathetic.
What is your occupation?
How did you discover your melanoma condition and how long ago?
Aged 19, I noticed a mole on my lower leg change form and become "scaly". I immediately went to a skin cancer specialist, with the result being an in situ melanoma (stage 0). I had regular skin checks, decreasing in frequency with no new cancers.
Fast forward 10 years later, I had the same happen again on the same lower leg - this time a Stage 1 melanoma. At this point I had total body photography done so myself, my husband and my doctors could compare the results. 12 months later I went for my regular 3-monthly skin check and everything was fine.
However, 1 month later a suspicious lump appeared on my thigh so I promptly sought medical attention. While undergoing biopsies and scans my lymph nodes in my groin became very swollen and sore. I spent my 29th birthday knowing I had advanced melanoma but not knowing whether it was Stage 3 or 4 while I waited for a PET/CT scan.
For me, despite being vigilant growing up in the 'slip slop slap' era with caring parents and being a responsible young adult, my cancer progressed - partly because of my high-risk skin. I really want everyone to take sun safety seriously because it is preventable if you are cautious and get regular skin checks.
Most people shouldn't end up in my situation if they are careful. Everyone's life matters individually and as part of a community. If you knew you could significantly reduce your cancer risk, wouldn't you take simple steps to do so?
Do you have any other skin conditions?
I have always had sensitive, somewhat dry skin. I developed a rash from my immunotherapy drug, which does make my skin irritated and more sensitive especially in the heat. I also have lymphoedema in my leg due to removal of my lymph nodes from melanoma and have had one cellulitis infection.
I have to moisturise my skin frequently, take care of it well, wear compression, protect my skin and be selective with the sunscreen I use. This adds time and consideration to my health management. Family and friends also initiating sun safe behaviours helps me be sun safe and also helps me be less stressed about other people's safety.
What is your attitude towards sun protection today?
I remain very careful with my ivory skin and have further increased my sun safety, however, have come to a place of balance of being careful and still enjoying life. This has been made possible with counselling and the support of Melanoma Patients Australia.
A major factor in living comfortably with a skin condition is investing in readily accessible sun safe clothing, hats, and an umbrella that are all quite affordable. Solbari is a great company leading the way here. I am a strong advocate for sun safety and supporting my fellow patients. I want to leave a legacy for the littlies in my life - one of being able to enjoy a healthy outdoor life hopefully without the implications of melanoma. I want them to know how loved they are and one way is to advocate for a better future for them.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self about taking care of your skin and sun protection?
You're doing great taking care of your skin and not worrying about the pressure to be tanned or dress a certain way. Keep going - in the future others will appreciate who you are and how you model sun safety, and feel more confident and supported to be sun safe. Just be more careful of the exposure throughout the day and find ways to be organised to manage this. Your care for others is important too.
Thank you Kerryn for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.
The Solbari Team