Mum diagnosed with melanoma after joining in awareness event
ROCKHAMPTON mother of three Jessica Drew was inspired by last year's first ever Rockhampton Melanoma March to get a skin check, which revealed she had melanoma.
While at the Melanoma March, everyone who had never had a skin check before was asked to raise their hands. To her shock, Mrs Drew realised she was one of the few who hadn't ever had one before at 31 years of age.
She previously didn't think much of skin checks, but being a new mother, decided she better stop putting it off and go get checked for the sake of her family.
And it's lucky she did; a mole on her calf turned out to be melanoma in-situ, which had to be removed.
"It was quite embarrassing to say you hadn't gone for a skin check after listening to all those heart-wrenching stories from families that had drastically been affected by melanoma,” she said.
"I had just had my son and thought I had better get checked.
"I went to the doctor and it was really easy to get a skin check. I always thought it was a big process, but it's quite quick.
"The check revealed I had a melanoma in-situ on my calf and it was growing on top of a mole I have had my entire life.
"I didn't notice any change at all.
"I had it removed within a couple of days.
"Melanoma in-situ isn't like full blown melanoma, but it does make you more aware of your everyday life.
"I am hyper aware now that I have to put sunscreen on, wear a hat and proper clothing.”
The 32-year-old stay-at-home mum has since had 15 biopsies on suspicious moles and gets regular skin checks every three months.
"Because I have had the melanoma in-situ I am at high risk now for melanoma returning,” she said.
"So, anything suspicious they remove.
"The doctor has made me aware of the type of skin I have and how cautious I have to be moving forward with sun safety.”
She said getting a skin check was the easiest thing you could do to save a lot of pain for your family and yourself in the future.
"It is so important that everyone goes to get checked and looks after their skin,” she said.
"Just book an appointment and go. It's not a long appointment.
"You can take your baby and your children in with you, it's easy to do. All you need to do is call and book.”
Stage three melanoma patient and Rockhampton Melanoma March event organiser Aaron Kelly said Mrs Drew was one of many who walked away from last year's Melanoma March and had their skin checked.
"I have heard stories from people following last year's event that went and got a skin check, and even gone on to make it an annual or six-monthly thing,” he said.
"It's not just for yourself either. If you see something suspicious on a workmate, family member or close friend speak up and let them know they should get that checked out.
"Take five minutes out of your day to get a skin check, even if it doesn't look suspicious, there could still be a skin cancer or melanoma. If you get time, get that skin checked.
"At the end of the day you just never know. If you leave it go too late, it could be too late.”
The melanoma survivor said he hoped this year's event would be bigger and better than ever.
"We are really looking forward to this year's event following the success of last year - it was such a well-received event in the community,” Mr Kelly said.
"You don't realise how many people are affected by melanoma.
"We are really looking forward to a great walk and raising awareness and much needed funds for research so a cure for melanoma can be found.
"We are one of 22 marches across the country and hopefully we can do our little bit here in Rockhampton to support the Melanoma Institute of Australia.”
To register to walk, or sponsor a walker, visit www.melanomamarch.org.au.