- South African media personality Janez Vermeiren is recovering at home after undergoing surgery to remove a "small cancerous growth" from his eyelid.
- In a statement to News24, Vermeiren said the growth "started about two to three years ago" but "increased in size" in recent months.
- "My line of work has exposed me to the sun and outdoor elements for almost 25 years, and my one regret is not being more careful with my skin over the years."
South African media personality Janez Vermeiren is recovering at home after undergoing surgery to remove a "small cancerous growth" from his eyelid on Friday.
In a statement to News24, Vermeiren revealed the growth "started about two to three years ago" but "increased in size" in recent months.
"I honestly thought it was simply a little skin tag or wart," the TV personality added. He said before going to a doctor, he "tried to remove the growth with a home remedy of apple cider vinegar".
Vermeiren was referred to the Alchimia Clinic in Cape Town, where he consulted with a plastic surgeon due to the sensitive location of the growth.
"Plastic surgeon Dr Gareth Tjasink, an ex-colleague of mine from the modelling and TV industry and who was also on Survivor SA, looked after me," Vermeiren said. "He was absolutely brilliant and immediately consulted various other experts to figure out the best way forward."
A biopsy sample was then taken, which, Vermeiren said, "confirmed that it (the growth) was basal cell cancer".
What is basal cell cancer?
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells – a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off.
It often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. Basal cell carcinoma occurs most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck.
Vermeiren was advised to remove the growth immediately, and "had it been anywhere else, this would have been a quick fix," the model said. However, the tumour was on his eyelid and was "quite deep".
"In my line of work, it's not ideal to have scarring," Vermeiren said.
He explained why he went to a plastic surgeon to remove the tumour.
Vermeiren said Dr Tjasink and his team "managed to remove the cancerous tumour successfully and ended up cutting away about one-quarter of my lower eyelid". Within three hours, he was back home.
Following the surgery, Vermeiren was advised to "take it easy for the next couple of weeks, ice the wound, take some anti-inflammatories and apply antibiotic cream".
While it would seem easy enough to do, he said his "biggest challenge will be staying away from sport for a couple of weeks".
While basal cell cancer is the "least aggressive form of skin cancer," Vermeiren says it must be avoided.
"The tumour grew on the right-hand side of my face, which is very common in SA because it's the side most exposed to the sun when driving a car."
Offering advice after his experience, Vermeiren highlighted the importance of wearing sunblock at all times, even when doing day-to-day activities.
"My advice to all would be to put 50-factor sunscreen on your face daily," he said. "And try wearing sunglasses when driving or a cap and glasses when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods."