Why it’s also a message for young farmers, growers, and rural workers.
With over 50% of rural New Zealand insured with FMG and a strong presence in these communities, FMG and Melanoma New Zealand have partnered to help prevent avoidable suffering and deaths from melanoma.
FMG’s Chief Client Officer, Andrea Brunner says FMG often ways the most important asset on your farm is you.
“The benefits of doing a regular skin check are undeniable given that if melanoma is caught early, it’s almost always curable. Our farmers and growers are among the most at risk of melanoma in the world due to New Zealand’s UV radiation intensity. Supporting you to remain well so that you can continue to grow and prosper is very important to us,” says Ms. Brunner.
Melanoma New Zealand CEO, Andrea Newland says heightening the awareness in New Zealand’s rural communities of how to protect your skin when outdoors, and the importance of having a regular skin check, will save lives.
“New Zealand has the highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world. More than 4,000 are diagnosed with melanoma, and around 300 people will die from it, each year in New Zealand; in fact more people die from skin cancer than on our roads.
But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, given melanoma can be preventable and is almost always curable if caught early enough,” says Ms. Newland.
Ms Newland also says melanoma can sometimes be perceived as a concern for older people, but that’s not the case.
Ms Newland says that although the chance of developing melanoma increases with age, young people are not immune.
“Melanoma can be found in younger age groups too— especially people aged 25-39 years old,” says Ms Newland.
It’s more common in males than females, but everyone is at risk. You’ll increase your risk of melanoma if you don’t protect your skin from sunlight and it’s important to be aware that sunburn at any age increases your risk of melanoma later in life.
The team at FMG are helping to share Melanoma New Zealand’s key prevention and early detection messages, education, and advice through its connections into rural communities. This includes at events like regional field days, A&P shows and community events.
Melanoma at 24 years old
Jack Keeys was diagnosed with melanoma in 2019 at just 24 years old. Thankfully, his melanoma was caught early, and after two surgeries, he was given the all clear by his specialist. Jack was really shocked when he found out that the mole on his upper back was a melanoma. “The scary thing is, I nearly skipped my annual skin check because of my age. I was thinking about going the following year instead and I am really relieved that I didn’t wait; my skin check has probably saved my life.” Jack’s mum lives on a dairy farm just outside of his hometown, Paeroa, and he’s recently moved back home part-time to help out. He juggles this with his role as an Agri-Food Research & Insights Analyst at KPMG in Auckland.
Melanoma at 20 years old
Diagnosed with melanoma at just 20 years old, Lauren’s advice to people her own age is that melanoma is serious, and it can happen to you too. Lauren’s friends are busy studying, working, and planning their futures. However, Lauren is battling Stage 3B melanoma, undergoing immunotherapy treatment to potentially save her life. “Make sure you are aware of your skin and listen to your instincts. It's important, no matter what your age, to get doctors to take your concerns seriously and check your spots properly with the right equipment—like a dermascope.” Further facts about melanoma in New Zealand are available at www.melanoma.org.nz