Skin cancer scare a wake-up call

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

En­durance ath­letes ap­pear pretty tough and have to con­vince them­selves they’re al­most in­vin­ci­ble.

But a run-in with me­lanoma was enough to make 11-time Iron­man com­peti­tor and MasterChef con­tes­tant Paul Har­ri­son think again.

He wants to drive home the mes­sage about the dan­ger of not pro­tect­ing your skin and en­cour­ages people to get reg­u­lar check-ups as part of the Me­lanoma Foun­da­tion’s aware­ness month.

‘‘I think when you do things like Iron­man you do tend to feel in­de­struc­tible. But the in­ci­dence of deaths from me­lanoma is alarm­ing and it’s prob­a­bly the most pre­ventable cancer,’’ he says. ‘‘Life’s too great to cut it short.’’ His fair skin and large num­ber of moles means the Mt Eden fa­ther-of­four is at high risk of the skin cancer. He has al­ready had a few moles re­moved as a pre­cau­tion.

Iron­man com­peti­tors spend hours in the sun, swim­ming 3.8km, cy­cling 180km and run­ning 42km.

The Me­lanoma Foun­da­tion is now the of­fi­cial char­ity part­ner for Iron­man New Zealand.

Ath­letes should al­ways take an ex­tra 30 sec­onds to slap on some sun­screen or slip on some more cloth­ing, Mr Har­ri­son says.

‘‘I’ve got a bad burn on my arm at the mo­ment from com­ing out of the wa­ter, ap­ply­ing sun screen but ob­vi­ously miss­ing a spot. It’s all about haste.’’

Me­lanoma Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Linda Flay hopes the mes­sage is get­ting through.

‘‘There is still more work to do but we’re get­ting there. We’re get­ting through to adults but younger people are still a bit blase.’’

The foun­da­tion is call­ing on people to take ac­tion and check their skin while look­ing out for any changes this month as part of Me­lanoma March.

Photo: JESS LEE

Check it: MasterChef con­tes­tant and 11-time Iron­man com­peti­tor Paul Har­ri­son is rais­ing aware­ness for Me­lanoma March.

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