Warren Meanwell at his sun protection clothing shop in Byron Bay.
Warren Meanwell at his sun protection clothing shop in Byron Bay.

Lethal legacy of bronzed Aussie

SKIN cancer can be like a noose around your neck, according to Warren Meanwell, who was diagnosed with a melanoma three years ago.

“It is constantly at the back of your mind,” he said.

Mr Meanwell lives with the legacy of his melanoma as the nation marks Skin Cancer Action Week, staged by Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

He has had five major operations since discovering a match head-size mole on his ankle when he was 46. His kidney was removed in the latest operation in an attempt to remove a cancerous tumour. Mr Meanwell knows the damage he did to his skin when he was young.

In his 20s he was a surf lifesaver and avid sailor, spending four years sailing in Thailand wearing nothing but his board shorts.

“The bronzed Aussie look was in,” he said.

Seeing the devastating effects of skin cancer in miners in Western Australia led Mr Meanwell to set up a sun protection business from his home at Federal.

He described it as ‘a cruel irony’ that his business, Sun Protection Australia, now based in Byron Bay, protects people from skin cancer through its clothing range and education.

“I had a sense that I was high risk. I knew I had abused my skin in my youth,” he said.

Mr Meanwell said skin cancer prevention was about common sense. “Your body needs some UVB rays to produce Vitamin D, but take precautions,” he said.

While the NSW Central Cancer Registry estimates 478 deaths from skin cancer this year, Mr Meanwell remains positive about his diagnosis. He has undergone hyperthermia treatment in Germany, where the body is ‘cooked’ to kill the cancer cells. He is thankful too for the support from family and friends and to the business people who stepped in and helped finish his dream home amidst all his cancer treatments. “The world is a good place,” he said.

For more information on the dangers of skin cancer go to www.sunprotection.com.au or www.cancer.org.au



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