I’ve had skin cancers removed every year since I turned 50

John’s skin cancer story

Retired teacher John Clements knows just how dangerous the sun can be, having had multiple skin cancers diagnosed since his 50th birthday. 

John remembers being a regular beachgoer when he was young. “I was a typical kid. We would spend 6-8 weeks at the beach, all day, every day in summer in our bathers. Mum put baby oil on us. We didn’t know any better,” he says.  

John Clements wearing a helmet and a long-sleeve top, posing next to a bicycle with his hands on the handlebars.

Since turning 50, John’s had skin cancers removed almost every year. At age 65 he says, “I have had many basal cell carcinomas cut off my face and a dozen or so squamous cell carcinomas cut from my calves, back, face and arms.”  

John was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 50 after being “pestered” by his mum to do a screening test for bowel cancer – she was diagnosed with bowel cancer after initially putting off going to the doctor, despite experiencing bowel problems.  

As a result, she wanted John to be diligent with his health. For John, his bowel cancer diagnosis was a watershed moment. 

“I became a much better doctor-goer, which is the opposite to most men” he says. When his wife, Louise, noticed some spots on his skin, he was quick to get checked.  

”After my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I went to my GP to get all the checks and got a bit of a shock diagnosis myself. Since then, I’ve learnt to keep on top of my health – I have a GP who I know and trust to look after my skin and I’m quick to take action.” 

He goes to specialist skin check appointments every six months and has basal cell carcinomas burned off regularly. 

Now, John urges other men to look after themselves and their skin by adopting SunSmart habits. 

“I was a bit blasé about my health back in the day, like a lot of blokes. Now, if I’m out in the sun at all, I make sure to protect myself,” he says. 

His message to parents is to “cover your kids up”. As a former school teacher, John is passionate about encouraging kids to be SunSmart. “My life, and that of my two brothers and sister, would have been much better had we covered our skin up”.  

It’s never too late to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Start by making the 5Ss part of your everyday routine. Whenever the UV index is 3 or above, Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.