Myself and my dad, Terry.
Myself and my dad, Terry. Samantha Wantling

OPINION: Heed message to stop melanoma

AUSTRALIA has just taken out another prestigious award and it is one we should not be proud of.

We are the number one country in the world when it comes to melanomas. On average, one person dies every five hours from melanoma in Australia.

Regardless of the facts, it doesn't seem to matter what message we put out there, the numbers diagnosed are growing at an alarming rate.

My father found his melanoma at 54 and by the age of 59 we had lost him to this terrible disease. He made myself, my brother and sister promise to be religious on our skin checks and I have been true to my word.

So it really did come as a surprise to be diagnosed with a melanoma and two basal cell carcinomas in the past six months. Emotions and stress levels have been pushed just a little high, but safe to say I have been given the all clear and must now be extremely vigilant.

I mean, I had read the stats and researched the information and I knew that I ticked nearly every box. Unprotected sun exposure - yes. A history of childhood tanning - yes. Increased numbers of unusual moles - yes. A family history - yes. Fair skin, a tendency to burn rather than tan, freckles, list eye colour - yes, yes, yes and yes.

As it turns out, I should not have been surprised.

Hindsight is such a wonderful tool, albeit a little useless, and I realise now that those hours spent lathering myself in baby oil and sunbaking as a teenager were futile - it certainly wasn't what led my husband to marry me.

But there is hope, there is always hope. Melanoma is one of the most preventable forms of cancer and if detected/treated early has a survival rate of nearly 100per cent.

Progress is being made in the research field every day and in recent years there have been breakthroughs in life expectancy for advanced melanoma patients.

March is the Melanoma Institute of Australia's major annual fundraising campaign to support melanoma research. It is an opportunity to inspire others, remember loved ones and support the cause.

Some people attend marches, some simply donate, but we all should take one day this month to remind ourselves how precious our lives are and how important the message of sun protection is.

For those of us who have lost loved ones to melanoma, time won't stand still, and neither will we. We are all taking steps to end melanoma.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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