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Skin cancer patient warns of delayed dangers following sun exposure

Victor Vernier is still being treated for melanomas 16 years after working outdoors as a gardener. He says “It’s simple really, everyone should be sensible and user higher factor sun creams, wear a hat and cover up”.

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The lasting effects of over exposure to the sun are being driven home this month, as part of NHS England’s Cover Up, Mate campaign.

It’s a skin cancer prevention initiative, which targets people who work outside, including farmers, gardeners, and men in particular.

Victor Vernier, (MBE) was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2002 after spending years working outdoors, in his role as a gardener. Some 16 years later he is still being treated for melanomas which have been diagnosed across his upper body.

Victor said:

“As a younger man we all wanted to get a sun tan and would often visit the coast or take off our tops when we could to impress the ladies. In the early 1950’s and 60’s there was very little sun-cream so, we used what we could to get the best tan possible, often this was oil with no SPF.

“It seems ridiculous now, but there was no awareness of skin cancer 50 years ago, we had never heard of it. There was no information on keeping an eye on moles or spots that had changed or looked different, that’s changed now.

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“It was only many years later when my GP commented that I had a lot of moles that they did an assessment. I was sent to hospital to see a consultant and came home with around 14 stitches; it was a little bit of a shock.”

Victor has under gone many treatments and is always checking his skin with support of his family to ensure there’s no change.

He added:

“If I’d known then the harm the sun causes I would have done as much as I could to ensure I protected my skin. It’s simple really, everyone should be sensible and user higher factor sun creams, wear a hat and cover up. Protect yourself and prevent skin cancer, it’s that easy!”

Cover Up, Mate urges men in particular to protect themselves against the harmful effects of the sun. Statistics show that levels of skin cancer continue to rise. Those that spend a lot of time outdoors are more at risk because of their increased exposure to sunlight.

For the last three years men have been the focus of the campaign, as research indicates that women are more likely to slap on the sun-cream and a hat. Cancer Research figures indicate that, since the 1970s, skin cancer rates have quadrupled and the incidence of skin cancer in men is growing at twice the rate that it is for women.

The weather is warming up this week and the Met Office is warning it doesn’t have to be sunny for UV rays to have a harmful affect.

Yolanda Clewlow, the Strategic Lead for Health at the Met Office said:

“If you’re working outdoors it’s important to remember that UV levels are usually highest between May and September. You can still get burnt even when it’s cloudy, clouds don’t stop all UV rays, and unlike the sun’s warmth, it’s difficult to know when they may be harming you. We advise people to check our UV forecast before they leave the house.”

The advice from NHS Choices remains that people with fair skin, moles, freckles, red or fair hair, or light coloured eyes are the most susceptible to skin cancer.

The advice for everyone, including outdoor workers is:

• Stay in the shade wherever possible
• Make sure you don’t burn
• Protect yourself by wearing suitable clothing, e.g. a hat if possible
• Wear sunglasses and sunscreen of at least factor 15
• Reapply your sunscreen every few hours.

You can find more information about skin cancer prevention at:

www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/

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Charity

Crawley School raises an incredible £13,250 for local charity

Oriel High School students raised the huge sum through a charity walk.

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Oriel High School students chose The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre which is attached to Crawley Hospital as their chosen charity for their sponsored walk this year.

The students managed to raise an astounding £13,250.

Alyson Smith, Fundraising manager for Olive Tree Cancer Support was presented with a cheque with more money still coming in.

Alyson said:

“As a small charity this is such amazing news to us. The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre is a small, independent charity based in Crawley which has provided free support, advice, friendship and therapies to thousands of people in the local area and is a hugely valuable and much appreciated resource.

The Olive Tree, which began as a small cancer support group over 21 years ago in Crawley, provides a haven: somewhere to go and be with people who understand and can help. Our team of 85 volunteers offers free information, advice and therapeutic care to support all those affected by cancer from the point of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. The Olive Tree supports the friends, families and carers as well as the individual experiencing cancer.”

The charity offer complementary and emotional support therapies. They say the complementary therapies can help to reduce stress, alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments and enhance feelings of well-being. They also offer acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, craniosacral therapy and Reiki.

Their emotional support is offered through counselling, art counselling, coaching, hypnotherapy and mindfulness workshops and they also run several support groups, which provide an informal environment for people to come together and support.

The charity also point out that their range of services is continually evolving and currently includes yoga, singing workshops, and a wig scheme.

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