Skin cancer scare a wake-up call
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.
Check it: MasterChef contestant and 11-time Ironman competitor Paul Harrison is raising awareness for Melanoma March.