SPREADING THE MESSAGE: Bailee Love (left) and Pippa Kelly cool off by the river after the Rockhampton Melanoma March  yesterday. This year the march raised more than $20,000. INSET: Lee-Ann Lovegrove and Fay Duffy cut the ribbon at the start of the march. Both women were guest speakers at yesterday's event.
SPREADING THE MESSAGE: Bailee Love (left) and Pippa Kelly cool off by the river after the Rockhampton Melanoma March yesterday. This year the march raised more than $20,000. INSET: Lee-Ann Lovegrove and Fay Duffy cut the ribbon at the start of the march. Both women were guest speakers at yesterday's event. Rockhampton Melanoma March

Rocky comes together in the fight against melanoma

MORE than 300 Rockhampton locals joined in a march on Sunday to raise awareness of melanoma and money to support its research.

Back for a second time after last year's success, the Rockhampton Melanoma March helps the Melanoma Institute Australia, to try to reach its goal of zero deaths from melanoma.

Rockhampton's Melanoma March organiser Aaron Kelly said the turnout was bigger and better than last year and that he was proud that over $20,000 had been raised that would go directly to melanoma research.

Mr Kelly is a melanoma survivor, but he prefers to be called a melanoma awareness advocate.

More than 300 people turned out on Sunday to support the second annual Melanoma March. More than $20,000 was raised, which will go directly to research.
Aaron Kelly, melanoma survivor, organised the Rockhampton Melanoma March for a second year which raised more than $20,000 towards melanoma research. Krissy Kelly

He says events like the Melanoma March can show people they are not alone in their journey, no matter how isolating it can be.

"This year the march was held in 23 locations around Australia,” he said.

"I wanted to bring it to Rockhampton because the journey can be pretty lonely and you can sometimes feel like you have no one to speak to.

"I know I found when I was first diagnosed that it was quite a lonely journey.

"I had support from my family and close friends but it was really hard to speak to people.”

Marching to spread the message, MrKelly said it was important for people to understand melanoma and take it seriously.

"The statistics don't lie,” he said.

"Fourteen thousand Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each year and every five hours one person dies of melanoma.

"It is the most common cancer for people aged 15-39. That is a lot of young Australians getting diagnosed each year.

More than 300 people turned out on Sunday to support the second annual Melanoma March. More than $20,000 was raised, which will go directly to research.
More than 300 people turned out on Sunday to support the second annual Melanoma March. More than $20,000 was raised, which will go directly to research. Krissy Kelly

"The biggest message is to get to know your skin. Take a couple of minutes every day to actually have a look at yourself in the mirror. If there is something that is not quite right, take a photo as a reference to go back on in a couple of weeks. If it has changed, go see your doctor.

"If you can go and get a skin check and detect it early, it doesn't have to be so deadly. There are so many treatment options if you can get an early diagnosis, but if you don't treat it early you might be like me where it ends up in your system.”

Mr Kelly, feeling overwhelmed by the support of the community, said he was grateful to the community for rallying behind an important cause.

"It is a big challenge, but what we did here today makes me really proud,” he said.