Not too many couples can say they both beat melanoma.
Tauranga residents Les and Bernice Smith have both had skin cancer removed. Now they are warning New Zealanders to be vigilant and get regular checks.
Sunburn injuries last summer prompted about 21 people to file an ACC claim, prompting payments of more than $2000. Most of the claims were filed in December.
Earlier this year while taking his wife for a skin check, Les Smith was told he had two cancers on the end of his nose.
Les said the cancer was two little scabs that he did not think anything of.
"I used to scratch and pick it off and it would come back," he said.
Les had both of the cancerous lumps cut out and doctors did a skin graft from his forehead to put on his nose.
The octogenarian joked that he got a nose job. But at the time, he said, it was not a laughing matter.
Bernice, Les' wife, was enduring her own harrowing skin cancer story.
"I had a couple of spots on the back of my left arm ... The skin specialist took one look and said 'You need biopsies on them', so they came back and they were both melanomas," Bernice said.
"They were [removed], then a couple of years later another spot popped up and they thought it had spread."
The cancer had spread to Bernice's chest and attached itself along her windpipe.
Doctors could not treat it with radiotherapy because it was too close to her vital organs.
"I got it taken out in Hamilton, they collapsed my lung and spread my ribs to get to it."
Bernice said things were now "so far, so good".
While she did not feel any different physically, it did affect the mind, she said.
"It's one of those horrible words like the C-word, you think 'Am I doomed?', and that sort of thing. I snapped myself out of it and said, 'You're treated so you're fine'."
Bernice said she has told her children to keep an eye on their skin because she was concerned there might be a genetic link.
"Slip slop slap, wear a hat and just be vigilant if you've got any spots at all. It can be the tiniest of spots," she said.
"I've got several postcard things they've given me with what melanoma looks like, and they look completely different.
"So it can be quite hard for the untrained eye - just go and get checked," Bernice said.
The couple's warning comes amid calls from Consumer New Zealand for better regulation of the sunscreen industry after its testing of 19 sunscreen products showed just nine met requirements for broad spectrum, and its label's SPF label claims.
New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, recently surpassing Australia in the stats, which rival our road death toll.
In 2014, 2294 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and in that year 378 people died from it - mostly men. The road toll that same year was 293.
People with blonde hair, fair skin, who have been burned and have a family history of skin cancer, are most at risk.
WHAT IS MELANOMA?
Thought to be the most dangerous form of skin cancer, it develops after skin cells are damaged by ultraviolet radiation - from the sun or sunbeds - which can lead them to multiply and become malignant.
If treated early melanoma can be cured, but, if not, cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma New Zealand spokeswoman Sinda Hall said being skin aware and adopting good sun behaviour was the best way to prevent melanoma.
People should check their moles for asymmetry, border irregularity, uneven colours and change such as becoming elevated or changing colour or size.
- For more information visit sunsmart.org.nz