Australia, we need to talk. This week’s dramatic episodes of Married At First Sight have highlighted a tragedy which is ripping Australian families apart. Yet no one is talking about it.
Whilst public discussion focuses on Cheryl and Andrew’s tumultuous relationship, we should be talking about something far more sinister. At their ‘relationship boot camp’ Cheryl was clearly shown sporting badly sunburnt shoulders and back. Her skin was bright red, it looked painful, and I’m sure viewers noticed. Yet no-one batted an eyelid.
Well, I am calling it. The national discussion about young Australians and melanoma needs to start, and it needs to start now. Our young adults are dying from melanoma. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, young parents – lost to melanoma, Australia’s national cancer, at the prime of their lives.
Melanoma is the most common cancer affecting 15-39 year-old Australians. It kills more 20-39 year olds than any other single cancer. One Australian dies from melanoma every six hours. Yet, it is largely preventable.
One Australian dies from melanoma every six hours. Yet, it is largely preventable.
Intense, intermittent UV exposure leading to sunburn radically increases your chance of developing potentially deadly melanoma. So why are we sitting back and admiring a young woman with a bad case of sunburn on an Australian reality television show, and not discussing it?
Time to get with the program. The famous line, “I love a sunburnt country”, was written way back in 1908. Sun tanning products became sunscreen products back in the 80s, for a reason. Television shows moved on from showing contestants driving without seatbelts, or smoking, to send the right public health and safety messages. It is time to place the same importance on sending life-saving sun safety messages to impressionable young Australians. We banned sunbeds (another driver for melanoma), time to ban sunburn.
Cheryl’s sunburn was front and centre during Melanoma March, our annual awareness month, when I meet a truly heart-wrenching number of partners and parents who have lost their loved ones to melanoma at 24, 32 or 38. Come on Australia, who is ready to join the conversation and help us end melanoma?
Carole Renouf is CEO, Melanoma Institute Australia. To find out more about Melanoma Institute Australia visit the website.