SALON SPOT CHECK PROVES A CUT ABOVE
WHEN Neil Gibb went for his regular trim at Just Cuts in Belmont, he didn’t expect he’d also get advice that would save his life.
Hairdresser Barbara Knowles-Tassell noticed a peculiar-looking mole near the top of the 66-year-old Kewdale man’s head while cutting his thick hair.
Ms Knowles-Tassell, who hadn’t cut Mr Gibb’s hair before, made the quick but crucial comment that “you should probably get that looked at”.
Having already skipped his annual skin check last year, Mr Gibb heeded the advice.
He went to Molescan in Midland and was told the mole — which was about the size of a 10¢ coin and looked “spidery” — was a malignant melanoma.
After an emergency operation at Royal Perth Hospital, Mr Gibb says he’s grateful his new barber went above and beyond, and is urging other stylists to follow suit.
“I had been procrastinating for more than a year to get my regular check-up,” Mr Gibb said. “We don’t have any history of skin cancer in our family and previous moles I’ve had biopsied have ended up being nothing. So this time round I thought it would be nothing again. I was surprised when the doctor said it was melanoma.”
Ms Knowles-Tassell said even though the industry could sometimes be about getting clients “in and out” fast, she always took time to make sure she thoroughly checked her client’s scalps.
“I’m not qualified to say, ‘Hey look you have a melanoma’, but I definitely think we have the position to let clients know if something doesn’t look quite right — but without alarming them — which is what I did for Neil,” the 44-year-old said.
The operation left Mr Gibb with a bald patch about the size of a 50¢ coin, but he says he’s lucky.
“You just don’t know how quickly these things grow and develop,” he said. “I’m just so grateful to Barbara because I wouldn’t otherwise have known that I had a mole there. I couldn’t see it. Barbara could have gone ahead and just cut my hair and said, ‘See ya later’. But because she said something, she potentially saved my life.”
Mr Gibb’s experience encouraged his brother Larry, 65, of Kalgoorlie, to see a skin specialist. His doctor has found a “suspicious mole” on the same area of his scalp as his brother.
“We look a lot alike and we joke that Larry can never let me have anything of my own,” Mr Gibb said.
“But skin cancer is a serious matter and I hope he doesn’t have melanoma. But if he does, then Barbara has helped us both.”
Early warning: Just Cuts Belmont hairdresser Barbara Knowles-Tassell and client Neil Gibb.