Melanoma New Zealand’s mobile spot check van donated by Ryman Healthcare arrived in the Hawkes Bay yesterday and in no time had its flags flying and a queue of residents lining up for checks at Princess Alexandra Village in Napier.
Over the next few days, it will be visiting Hastings before moving on to Havelock North where our James Wattie residents and construction team will be offered the checks.
The van has attracted a lot of interest in the community especially after it featured in an online story from Hawkes Bay Today newspaper, with delighted readers encouraging others to get checked and excited they could receive them at no cost. Local reporter Gianina Schwanecke, decided doing a story about her own experience getting a check, would raise awareness and help readers understand not only the importance of the checks, but also how easy and unintrusive they are.
She showed up with a local photographer and talked readers through the process from filling out the consent form, to getting the spots on her shoulder and calf checked by nurse educator Gill Rolfe.
Gill offered advice about protection from the sun’s rays with sunscreen, appropriate sun-safe clothing and times, if possible, to avoid being in direct sunlight.
She also recommended people carry out their own checks at least once a month and see a professional at least once a year.
More than 1200 spot checks have been carried out since February and more than 200 people have been referred on for further evaluation of suspicious lesions.
Melanoma New Zealand chief executive Andrea Newland said, "The van will enable us to reach many New Zealanders, including rural and remote communities, many of whom work outdoors and so may be at higher risk of developing a melanoma."
Hawkes Bay skin cancer rates are among the highest in New Zealand.
Ms Newland said more people died of skin cancer every year than on the roads.
“If you get sunburnt at any time in your life, that can come back. It can affect you years down the track. So, any sunburn is dangerous.
“The good news is that if melanoma is caught and treated early, it's almost always curable.”
Melanoma NZ is Ryman Healthcare's charity partner for 2020/21 with villages and offices raising money with book sales, raffles, bingo and a host of other fund raisers, the total of which will be matched dollar for dollar by Ryman Healthcare to present to Melanoma NZ at the end of its year.
The spot check van is currently travelling the North Island to offer checks to the public and residents and staff in Ryman villages.