Some things might’ve changed in the last 40 years but ‘it’s still the same sun’

Tuesday 17 November, 2020

Sid Seagull and the 5 sun protection messages: slip, slop, slap, seek, slide

We might stream music rather than create mixed tapes, and skivvies may not be quite as cool but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. The sun and dangers of UV.

This year, to mark the start of National Skin Cancer Action Week (15–21 November), Cancer Council has launched It’s still the same sun, a campaign designed to remind adults and parents of young children that the need for sun protection is just as important now as it was back when Sid the Seagull first graced our living rooms.

It’s still the same sun plays on the nostalgia of the famous Slip, Slop, Slap catch-cry from the 80s and encourages Victorians to brush up their sun protection habits.

The campaign comes off the back of new data from the  2019 Summer Sun Protection Survey (Life in Australia™)  which showed sun protection habits for 25–44 year olds were slipping with one in four getting sunburnt on summer weekends. Results also showed this age group were still seeking a suntan, with 43%saying they like to get a tan, a sign of harmful UV damage.

Head of SunSmart Heather Walker said the data was worrying given many within the 25–44 year old age bracket are parents with young families. 

“95% of skin cancers are the result of exposure to UV. And children are particularly vulnerable with the early years being critical periods where sun exposure can determine to a large extent the lifetime potential for skin cancer.” – Heather Walker, Head of SunSmart

Mum of two Brydie Hepworth knows all too well the dangers of UV.

Brydie spent many of her childhood summers with extended time in the sun by the family pool. Despite often using sun protection she recalls several bad sunburns as a child after getting caught out on overcast days. She also claims to have been a sun seeker as a teenager attempting to tan with her friends for years.

Brydie with her mum and her sister
Brydie (left) with her mum and her sister

In 2018 Brydie was diagnosed with an early stage melanoma on her back. In what Brydie says was a very stressful period of her life, a plastic surgeon was required to remove the melanoma within days of her diagnosis. Although the melanoma was caught early, she now has an 8cm scar on her back after wide margins were necessary to ensure the entire skin cancer was removed.

“Growing up I hated wearing a t-shirt while swimming and having to always apply sunscreen. But now I’m grateful to my parents. I just wish I could tell that 15 year-old me that getting a tan is not worth the risk of a melanoma." – Brydie Hepworth, mum

Today, Brydie is very aware of the importance of using good sun protection and prides herself on role modelling good habits for her two boys.

“Knowing what I know now about sun protection has changed my daily habits. I will always wear a hat, rash vest and sunscreen and ensure my boys are well protected. I don’t want them to carry the same risk of getting skin cancer that I do.”

Ms Walker said with the UV high and climbing, she hoped other Victorians would take steps to reduce the risk of skin cancer for themselves and their families the way Brydie has.

“In 2019 over 2,800 Victorians were diagnosed with the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. But despite its prevalence, skin cancer is also almost entirely preventable.

“We know children look to parents and other adults and copy what they see. We are all role models to someone and we hope that It’s still the same sun resonates with Victorian adults and prompts them to remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide when the UV is 3 and above,” she said.

Visit  sunsmart.com.au for tips on how to protect yourself and your family.