'No tan is worth it': young melanoma survivor's sun safe message

Launceston's Kate von Stieglitz, pictured with Cancer Council Tasmania's Ella French at Cataract Gorge, says she learnt the hard way that everyone is vulnerable to skin cancer. Picture: Phillip Biggs
Launceston's Kate von Stieglitz, pictured with Cancer Council Tasmania's Ella French at Cataract Gorge, says she learnt the hard way that everyone is vulnerable to skin cancer. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Kate von Stieglitz thought she was too young to be diagnosed with melanoma at 23. She was wrong.

After observing a suspicious-looking spot on her left quad, Ms von Stieglitz, now 24, went to two separate doctors who told her it was nothing to be concerned about.

However, after the spot became more prominent, she decided to seek a third opinion and booked an appointment with a specialist.

Ms von Stieglitz said the third doctor didn't seem concerned either: "But he said, 'You know your body best so let's just get rid of it and assess it'."

When the doctor phoned Ms von Stieglitz about a week later, she was shocked by what he told her.

"He said it was melanoma and that I'd need to come in to get one centimetre each side removed to make sure it doesn't spread anymore," she said.

Kate von Stieglitz. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Kate von Stieglitz. Picture: Phillip Biggs

"When I heard that news, my stomach just dropped. I got quite emotional about it. Not many people in my family have even had cancer.

"It was a massive shock."

Melanoma was then found on Ms von Stieglitz's left calf when she went for her first bi-yearly check-up six months later. It was promptly removed.

"If I had anything to say to young people, it's that everyone's vulnerable to the sun," she said.

"Just because you're young, you shouldn't feel like you're invincible. I spent a lot of time as a kid out in the sun, and as a teenager just trying to get that tan, that summer glow.

"And I regret it so much. No tan is worth it."

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

Ms von Stieglitz was speaking out as part of Cancer Council Tasmania's launch of the SunSmart season

Cancer Council Tasmania cancer prevention project officer Ella French said sun protection was required when the UV was at 3 or above, which is from September to April in Tasmania.

She urged Tasmanians to abide by the five sun protection measures - slip, slop, slap, seek and slide - and to check their skin regularly.

"It's really important that everyone is aware and everyone is wearing sunscreen," Ms French said.

This story 'No tan is worth it' says 23-year old melanoma survivor first appeared on The Examiner.