Federated Farmers is throwing its support behind the Melanoma New Zealand campaign to save farmers’ lives from skin cancer.
The annual campaign for this year ‘Get Spotted’ has just wrapped up, but the Melanoma New Zealand quest to see zero lives lost in New Zealand from melanoma goes on.
Federated Farmers vice president and Wairarapa arable farmer Karen Williams says as the weather gets warmer, it is a good time to be thinking about getting “sunsmart”.
In New Zealand there are more than 6000 diagnoses of melanoma every year and around 300 deaths.
Farmers and growers are at higher risk of getting melanoma due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity and the time they spend outside.
However, melanoma and skin cancers can be preventable and curable diseases. The right protection techniques and annual checks can save a life.
“It needs to become routine to put on sunscreen before going outside. On our farm we have got big pump bottles of sunscreen at the house and down at the sheds, and smaller bottles in all the vehicles, along with enough brimmed hats,’ Karen says.
Karen has personal experience of the need to stay vigilant about skin cancer.
“My husband had one of the lowest grades of melanoma and he got it cut off. It was like a little black dot on his face, under his eye so we did a biopsy and they cut it out.
“We are both very aware of sun exposure and what it does, so we have built it into our regime to get regularly checked.”
Checks with a GP or specialist are the best way for those at risk of melanoma to receive skin monitoring, and if melanoma is detected early enough it can be successfully treated.
Karen also wants to see more farmers and growers think of being ‘sunsmart’ as part of their good business practice – something that everyone does, that’s good for business, and for personal health.
“Sunscreen is a legitimate farm expense. And buy it in bulk. It’s no different than buying a hi-vis vest to be seen, or helmets to protect your head, or safety boots to protect your toes.”
Melanoma New Zealand’s partnership with Federated Farmers’ founding partner insurer FMG also sees education and prevention messages of melanoma being shared with rural New Zealand, including Melanoma New Zealand teaming up with FMG at the National Fieldays to offer free spot checks.
FMG chief client officer Andrea Brunner says farmers and growers are among the most at risk of melanoma in the world due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity.
“So supporting them to remain well so that they can continue to grow well and prosper is very important to us.”
As Karen says, no one wants to spend their retirement getting skin spots removed that have life threatening risks.
“If we can prevent one melanoma case it’s a win, because it takes too many lives in New Zealand.”