Robert Botkai campaigns to warn people about the risks of sunbathing, in memory of his late wife Melanie
TAN AT your peril. This is the stark message from Robert Botkai, whose wife Melanie died last month from malignant melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer. She was just 41. Mr Botkai is now honouring his wife’s final wishes, warning others of the dangers of sun exposure.
He tells People: “Melanie would have wanted to alert people to the dangers of the disease. People think a tan is a good thing, but it is the skin burning.” His comments come following reports published last week that those who use sunbeds during their teens, 20s and early 30s are 75 per cent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, cases of which are increasing. “It is thought this is linked to a rise in holidays abroad,” says Mr Botkai.
He notes that those making aliyah may be at increased risk as their body might not be geared up to the Israeli climate. He says wearing suncream is not enough to prevent it.
Mrs Botkai, who was a GP in North Finchley, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma last February. She underwent two operations, but a further scan revealed liver tumours. She died on March 27. A possi- ble cause of her skin cancer was childhood exposure to sun. “Mel grew up in South Africa, so maybe she got burnt at a young age. One theory is that the disease remains dormant in the body and then strikes later on.”
Mr Botkai is continuing his wife’s work by raising money for The Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. He lives in Mill Hill, North London, with their two children. They are members of Mill Hill Synagogue.
Robert and Melanie Botkai