We are delighted to welcome Nurse Educator Sue Bibby to the Melanoma New Zealand team. Some of you may be familiar with Sue after she spent some of 2022 working our events around the country, providing free spot checks and education.
After qualifying as a registered nurse in the UK, Sue relocated to New Zealand in 2009. She was fortunate to continue her skin cancer journey with the head and neck cancer team in the Auckland DHB theatres before joining the Skin Institute in 2014, where she worked at the Nelson, Wellington and Auckland branches in various roles, including management. She also furthered her training in skin lesion diagnostics by gaining a diploma in Dermoscopy.
For the past four years, she has focused on performing skin checks and providing education on skin cancer awareness and sun safety.
Sue is looking forward to working for a not-for-profit and getting out into the community to spread the word about safe sun practices, melanoma, and skin cancer awareness.
“I want to play my part and help the sector because, unfortunately, Melanoma New Zealand doesn’t receive any Government funding,” says Sue.
She has seen a change in New Zealanders’ attitudes towards getting their skin checks and believes it is because they see more damage to their skin.
“I often hear from Kiwis who tell me that the sun seems stronger than ever, and they can feel their skin burning more quickly than before. Also, because we have the highest rates of melanoma in the world, many people know someone directly affected by it, which has helped raise awareness and made people more aware of the damage the sun is doing to their skin.”
She encourages everyone to get their skin checked regularly as it is not painful and can take ‘just seconds’ to check a spot using a dermatoscope.
“Because you’re seeing a professional, there’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s what we do all day, every day. We’d rather see someone and offer reassurance rather than have someone miss out because they’re embarrassed.
“Most people who get it done say it’s an enormous weight off their mind, and for those who need further investigation, the earlier we get on to it, the better the result.”
The message she gives everyone she meets through her role is to make sunscreen use habitual, like cleaning your teeth. “It also needs to be reapplied every two hours. Otherwise, it’s like having bare skin if you’re heading outdoors. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation also penetrates through glass, so sunscreen is essential, even if you’re working inside or travelling in a car.
“Also, cover your skin by wearing suitable clothing, a hat and sunglasses and use shade whenever you can.
“Keep an eye on your skin. If you spot anything new or old that is changing, get it checked straight away.”