Widow of skin cancer victim urges people to stay sun safe

Helen Mackerill (front row wearing number 77) and Team Mac take part in the Rainbow Dash Run for St Clare's Hospice
Helen Mackerill (front row wearing number 77) and Team Mac take part in the Rainbow Dash Run for St Clare's Hospice
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The heartbroken widow of a South Tyneside dad who died after losing his battle with skin cancer is urging people to stay safe in the sun this summer.

Paul Mackerill, 53, died last August, just two days before his 20th wedding anniversary.

Paul Mackerill

Paul Mackerill

For four years, Paul, from Rydal Gardens, South Shields, had fought a courageous battle with skin cancer.

Since his death, his wife Helen, along with the couple’s two daughters Emily, 15, and Sophie, 10, have raised cash for St Clare’s Hospice who looked after Paul in his final days.

They have also actively raised awareness of the need for people to take sun protection more seriously.

Now Mrs Mackerill is urging people to take heed of skin cancer warnings and to use the appropriate sun factor to protect themselves.

People never think it can happen to them, but it can.

Helen Mackerill

She said: “I don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but people really do need to think about sun protection – especially for children.

“People never think it can happen to them, but it can.

“If they have moles on their body, they should look out for any changes. And any little changes should be checked out by your doctor.”

More than 2,000 people die every year in the UK from skin cancer.

Mrs Mackerill added: “There needs to be more awareness around the sun protection factor as a lot of people don’t understand it. They think they can put a high factor on and spend all day out in the sun, but it doesn’t work like that.”

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is linked to the amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned and how much of the UVB rays are blocked out. A product with a SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93% of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out about 97%.

There is no equivalent for UVA, however.

Meanwhile, Mrs Mackerill, along with family and friends, is continuing her fundraising for St Clare’s Hospice.

Last month, a team of 47 people took part in the charity’s Rainbow Dash run held at Monkton Stadium.

Mr Mackerill, who had his own company, PM Joinery Services, and worked on bars across South Tyneside, was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2011 after a mole on his chest became cancerous.

It was removed in the December of that year but, by the following September, it was discovered the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.

He underwent another operation and was continually monitored. But over the years his health deteriorated. He lost his battle in August 2015.