My mum passed away just over a year ago, after fighting Melanoma for nearly 3 years.
Apparently 10 years ago, people who were diagnosed with Advanced Metastatic Melanoma, also known as Stage IV Melanoma, had a very poor prognosis and were literally sent home to start saying their goodbyes to family and friends. In recent years, global research breakthroughs have tripled the life expectancy for advanced melanoma patients. My dear mum was one of these patients, and thanks to advanced immunotherapy treatment we were fortunate enough to have another couple of years together where mum could enjoy spending time with her grandchildren, family and friends. Unfortunately, as we were warned in advance, the treatment is only effective for 18 months on average. We were lucky and it lasted for about 24 months. But once the first signs of the silent killer (a.k.a Melanoma) creeping back again were evident, it all went downhill from there.
Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. 1 in 14 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with melanoma sometime in their life – melanoma is often referred to as Australia’s national cancer. This year, more than 14,000 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma and sadly, around 1,800 will die from the disease. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians (15–39 year olds) and kills more young Australians (20-39 year olds) than any other single cancer (source: MIA). According to the World Cancer Research Fund, Melanoma of the skin is also common in many other countries around the world. For a complete list click here.
Last year, a couple of months after mum’s passing, I have committed to fundraising for Melanoma Institute Australia by taking part in Melanoma March, a cause that is close to my heart. Melanoma March has become a major annual fundraising campaign to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research. It’s also an opportunity to inspire others, remember loved ones and support researchers to find a cure for Melanoma.
A year on, we returned to march for a cure for the second time. There were hundreds of people there on Manly Promenade, while the same event takes place in many other locations around the nation. It is horrifying to see the number of people affected by this terrible disease. It’s hard to think of a world with no cure for cancer in general, and melanoma in particular.
Most skin cancers that are diagnosed and treated early can be cured. Please take this opportunity to schedule your next skin check. Early detection is the key. I normally schedule my annual check on the same week as Melanoma March, this way I can never forget it. So please, go and get your skin checked!
Unfortunately the battle against advanced melanoma is one humanity is unable to win, yet. Hopefully one day cancer and specifically melanoma would be treatable and not considered a terminal illness anymore. But we’re not there yet, there is still a long battle ahead of us.
If you’re interested to make a contribution to MIA (Melanoma Institute Australia), please click here. Any contribution large or small is greatly appreciated. Take care of yourselves.