Bree Wailes after the skin
cancer was cut out of her
It wasn't until Bree Wailes was in
the hospital waiting room that it hit
home that she had skin cancer.
She was diagnosed earlier this year,
aged 25, with basal cell carcinoma on
her face. This was after noticing a
patch of flaky skin that felt itchy and
After a biopsy confirmed it was
cancer she had it surgically removed in
a procedure that required 26 stitches
and left her with a lightning bolt
"It really didn't click until I was
in the waiting room and I was the
youngest person there by 20 or 30
years," she said.
"They were looking at me as if to say
'what are you doing here?'."
Despite having a family history of
skin cancer, Wailes was shocked to be
diagnosed at such a young age as she had
been "pretty careful" about applying
sunscreen and wearing a hat.
She hopes by speaking out about her
experience other young people will
realise skin cancer is something that
could affect them.
"It is something young people don't
care about," she said.
"They think being tanned looks
healthy. I don't think looking like a
leather handbag looks good at all."
National Skin Cancer Awareness Week
runs until November 22 and the Cancer
Council is using the opportunity to
highlight the behaviour of young people
in the sun.
According to its most recent sun
protection survey, undertaken over
summer in 2006/2007, one in four
teenagers aged 12 to 17, are still
getting burnt on a summer weekend,
compared to 14 per cent of adults.
Almost one third of those said they
forgot to protect themselves and 26 per
cent said they had stayed in the sun for
While fewer teens were actively
seeking a tan than when the survey was
first run in 2003/2004, 82 per cent said
they were in the sun for about two hours
during peak UV times.
Only 4 per cent wore a wide-brimmed
hat compared to 24 per cent of the
Cancer Council Australia chief
executive Professor Ian Olver said
adults were getting the message but
younger people needed to be targeted
"More than 430,000 Australians get
skin cancer and 1600 Australians die
from it each year, yet most skin cancer
is preventable simply by being
SunSmart," he said.
The SunSmart principles are slip,
slop and slap plus seek shade and slide
on some sunglasses.