Melanoma sur­vivor shares can­cer fight


Every year 354 peo­ple die from melanoma in New Zealand, that’s al­most one per­son a day.

Ex­perts are now pre­dict­ing the coun­try is on the verge of a skin can­cer epi­demic with the num­ber of peo­ple di­ag­nosed pre­dicted to in­crease by 50 per cent over the next 20 years.

Con is one of the lucky ones. He was di­ag­nosed with melanoma in Au­gust 2014.

‘‘I am stock-stan­dard Kiwi is­sue of that gen­er­a­tion of bare foot, and sun block didn’t re­ally come into thoughts as you play as kids and teenagers.’’

He was some­one who got semireg­u­lar mole check ups from a spe­cial­ist.

‘‘I’d been and had a mole check done and got the all clear and then missed my next one by six months.’’

In 18 months since his prior screen­ing, a mole had trans­formed into a melanoma.

‘‘I’d been and had a mole check done and got the all clear and then missed my next one by six months.’’

The mole was taken out the next day and af­ter the long wait for pathol­ogy re­sults it came back as ma­lig­nant. A piece of Con’s chest was taken out by a sur­geon and the can­cer has gone.

‘‘Be­cause of my GP’s early di­ag­no­sis and abil­ity to help me get in to see a sur­geon, it saved my life.’’

New Zealand has the high­est rates of in­va­sive melanoma per capita in the world. Con was one of over 4500 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with it every year.

‘‘The first thing that peo­ple have got to do is pro­tec­tion, you just don’t move with­out sun­block in a place like New Zealand.’’ Since Con’s di­ag­no­sis he has pushed those near­est to him into get­ting checked out. De­spite 70 per cent of melanoma cases oc­cur­ring in peo­ple aged 50 and over, Con says the younger gen­er­a­tion needs to be aware. ‘‘The equal most im­por­tant thing our gen­er­a­tion can do is help our chil­dren’s gen­er­a­tion get in front of this and that comes down to pro­tec­tion and early de­tec­tion.’’ Since hav­ing the melanoma re­moved, Con has had other be­nign moles taken out.

Ex­po­sure to ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion (UVA and UVB), a his­tory of child­hood sun­burn, using sunbeds, a per­sonal or fam­ily his­tory of melanoma and be­ing fairskinned and/or red-headed are all risk fac­tors for melanoma. Melanoma Aware­ness Week is from Novem­ber 14 to 21.


Con from Par­nell was di­ag­nosed with the most se­vere form of skin can­cer and is now en­cour­ag­ing others to go and get checked.

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