Robert Botkai cam­paigns to warn peo­ple about the risks of sun­bathing, in me­mory of his late wife Me­lanie

The Jewish Chronicle - - PEOPLE -

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

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