Deborah Hutton on the terrifying moment she was told she had skin cancer.

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With summer round the corner, our enthusiasm for sunshine, spending more time outdoors and getting a tan is reaching an all-time high.

So is the risk of skin cancer.

Television presenter Deborah Hutton had her first brush with skin cancer almost 20 years ago, but it was the diagnosis five years ago that really shook her.

She’s teamed up with La Roche Posay to help launch the My UV patch, the first-ever wearable patch that allows you to measure and monitor your UV exposure.

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We spoke to the 55 year old about the terrifying moment she received her diagnosis, why you can never be too careful in the sun and the sun safe products she swears by.

When did you first notice something wasn’t right with your skin?

“I had my first instance with skin cancer 15 to 20 years ago on my chest. You just know when something doesn’t feel right when you have awareness of skin, the spots and marks. If somethings not right, an alarm goes off. The first time I had it cut out of my chest, I knew I was susceptible – my family in Queensland get bits cut off and burnt off all the time, so I’m much more aware as we’re in a group of people highly susceptible to it.

“Five years ago was the major instance. I’d been watching a mark with my dermatologist and then it went dormant. I thought it had disappeared and thought the body had healed itself. After six months it came back with a vengeance. It’s something I will continue to have in my life –  there will be more, so it’s something I am religiously about looking for.”

Watch: As well as checking your skin, you should be checking your breasts. Here’s how. Post continues after video.

How did you feel when you received your diagnosis?

“The most recent one was when they cut a large proportion of skin cancer from the side of my nose, leaving me with a scar down to my chin. I was diagnosed with an infiltrating basal cell carcinoma which if left unattended can be dangerous. That moment, my blood ran cold.

“I sat there after being told they had no idea how much skin they were going to take, and it may well be a skin graft. You’re fearful because you want to get it all, you’re also thinking ‘This is on my face, what am I going to be left with’. It was a very traumatic time, I pulled over to the side of the road and bawled my eyes out. It’s that realisation that you are playing with fire.

“I called mum and she was great, she said to me ‘Don’t overeact, go through the process and I’ll come up to be with you’, it was the reassurance I needed. A major point for me was finding a good skin surgeon, it wasn’t just about cutting it out but also about making sure I wasn’t left with a horrible scar. There are certain areas where scars don’t heal very well, so it’s essential to find the right plastic surgeon to get the right desired result.”

Do you ever think about what caused it?

“There have been so many instances. I was born in the early ’60s, we grew up in Queensland and when I moved to Sydney, I’d jump on the bus to go to Bondi and getting burnt was matter of pride, we’d compare who was the reddest at the end of the day. We’d be baking ourselves – and I can still smell the scent of Hawaiian Tropic still takes me back to that – baking ourselves in coconut oil and frying our skin unbeknownst to the damage we were doing.

“You’d blister and peel and think ‘Oh, great now I won’t peel again this summer’. Just stupid stuff that we thought was okay at the time. The damage multiplies over the years until you find it too late.” (Post continues after gallery.)

 What got you through treatment?

“Knowing that I had the right people by my side, my dermatologist, skin surgeon, my family. At the end, let’s be pragmatic about it, the surgery was really scary and I was comforted by the fact that it would heal. I went back every month to see the surgeon and to make sure we’d got everything, it was a huge relief.

“You’re fearful of what is under your skin if you’ve got skin cancer –  the focus is on getting it as fast as possible. You got to have the right people around you and I can’t stress how important it is to have a dermatologist rather than a doctor who knows a little about skin.”

See you #newyork thanks for having me! Adore this city.???????????????? Vegas, here I come…????

A photo posted by Deborah Hutton (@deborahhutton) on

 

How has your attitude around sun safety changed?

“I was never that obsessed with it. I’d just wear a hat, put on a bit of sunscreen and just go about it. Now I know. To me the damage has already been done, now I protect myself but the harm was done years ago and will be around for the rest of my life.

“I play golf and live by the beach, I don’t lie on it but I walk my dog and train outdoors. I’m always outdoors. I tend to be more conscious about it. I don’t want it to stop the way I live, I’ve got to be pragmatic.

“It’s just about trying to wear the right clothing and continue to reapply. I’m not going to spend my life indoors hiding which is why the UV patch is so useful and clever – reminds you to reapply or take a break.”

 

Why do you think My UV Patch is such an important product?

“It’s about reminding people because we get relaxed about skin protection. We lather ourselves in sunscreen and think that’s done. If we are out and about, we don’t think about the continued exposure. With this kind of technology, it’s collating the data for you and constantly acknowledging what you’re exposed to. We would never know otherwise.

“There’s an app you can download, it’s amazing and shocking at the same time about how exposed we are to UV rays. You keep checking it, even sitting in the car driving, through the window you’re still exposed. It’s the shock of it and for that reason it wakes you up.”

What measures do you take now for you and your family to be sunsafe?

“I tell them all the time to get their skin checked. I’m always looking for it, I’ve become the local skin patrol. If I see anything on someone I will make them check it out. Mum rings me all the time as she’s getting things cut out or burnt off, it’s frightening to me because I see that is my future. I’m paranoid about it now, absolutely paranoid about anything on my skin from top to toe.

“My dermatologist’s number is on speed dial. That’s the way I live. The family is living the same story. I just wish younger people appreciate this is really old news. At the beach I see a lot of people lying there and I’m like ‘I just wish you would not do that because you’ll live a life later on that you will regret.”

Love being on #Studio10 @Studio10au with the team especially with the gorgeous @JessRowe x

A photo posted by Deborah Hutton (@deborahhutton) on

What would your advice be to women in a similar position?

“Be really vigilant about watching your skin. If there’s something that looks suspect, check it out, don’t put it off. Any form of cancer is about being on the front foot and being preventative. Get a really good dermatologist and make the appointments. Do the checks every year. Put it in the diary!”

Image: Instagram/@deborahhutton.

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