Olivia Tierney, a 17-year old student at Costa Teguise’s Arenas International school, tells us about her new project aimed at cutting melanoma and skin cancer on Lanzarote
Olivia is preparing her final year project for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and has chosen to focus on the issue of melanoma (skin cancer), which is an ever-present risk on Lanzarote. “It’s a subject with a special resonance for my family, as my father was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face two years ago, “says Olivia. “He’s been lucky enough to make a full recovery, but I want to make people aware of how they can avoid having these sad and hurtful moments in their lives by simply looking after themselves and protecting themselves from the sun. It has given a big scare to myself and my family and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
Olivia’s project is titled MELANOMORE and she’ll be selling charity wristbands around the island, and presenting talks at her school. All proceeds from the sale of the wristbands will go to the AECC (Spanish Association Against Cancer).
Olivia says “Lanzarote’s not only closer to the equator, but it also has large foreign communities of residents and tourists from countries that are not used to high intensity sun levels. Nevertheless, this is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their skin type.”
Her father’s experience with melanoma, and her own research, have caused her to change her lifestyle, too. “Before, I’d just say “Whatever” when my mum told me to put sunblock on. Now I don’t need to be told.”
Olivia recommends pharmaceutical suncreams that are over factor 50 such as ISDIN or Le Roche-Posay, available from local chemists. She recommends that everyone have regular check ups with a dermatologist, and that people pay special attention to moles and skin blemishes, especially those that seem to change. “Catching it early is the key to preventing further problems” she advises.
The end of summer can be one of the most deceptive times of year when it comes to sun protection. The climate is cooler, but the UV levels still average 7, which indicates a high risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun.
Everyone on Lanzarote is recommended to take precautions against sunburn. Safest of all is staying out of the sun in the first place, but if you do venture out be sure to use sunblock, loose fitting long-sleeved clothes, hats and sunglasses.