Revving up to raise awareness

2 October 2019|Community News| Off Comments off on Revving up to raise awareness|

LOCAL melanoma survivor Ken Harriss undertook a two-week journey across the state on his beloved motorbike to raise awareness of the dangers of UV radiation and melanoma in Tasmania to young adults.

‘Run from the Sun’ is a state-wide community event run by Melanoma Tasmania that was established by Mr Harriss three years ago.

The tour is about promoting the prevention and early detection of melanoma amongst year nine to 12 students at 15 secondary schools and colleges around the state, including Montrose Bay High School.

“I want to get kids to be aware of the changes that can happen on their skin that might mark the start of something more suspicious,” Mr Harriss said.

Mr Harriss was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma in 2013 and given a limited life expectancy.

Since then he has been putting back into the system, talking to students and trying to reduce the impact of melanoma in young Tasmanians.

“I’ve been very lucky, I responded well to immunotherapy and that’s why my limited life expectancy has lasted so long,” Mr Harriss said.

“Our aim is that these kids can actually go outside and enjoy themselves in the day, but take the appropriate precautions they need to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation so that they hopefully don’t end up being in the situation that I am in.”

Tasmania has the fourth highest melanoma rate in Australia, with the disease being the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women in Tasmania.

“My desire would be that this program reduces the number of deaths that we see in Tasmania from melanoma, but also reduces the number of melanomas full stop that are actually occurring within Tasmania,” Mr Harriss said.

“The kids and schools that we visited have been really supportive, asking lots of questions and being very receptive and open to all the things that we are promoting.”

Skin scans detecting UV damage were also offered in pharmacies across Tasmania as part of the event.

“Raising awareness in secondary schools is particularly important as melanoma is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australians aged 15 to 29 years, accounting for more than one-quarter of all cancers in this age group,” Melanoma Tasmania founder Di Mason said.

“Melanoma continues to be one of the most common cancers among Tasmanians, yet is preventable.”

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Caption: Montrose Bay High School students, from left, Mia Vesser, Brianna Smith and Amy Applebee with Run from the Sun founder Ken Harriss.

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