Charles Harcoan – Skin Cancer Patient Profile

Charles Harcoan – Skin Cancer Patient Profile

“My dermatologist is an expert and knows what he’s doing. I am lucky to have him looking after me.”

Charles HarcoanCharles Harcoan found his first melanoma on his leg 25 years ago. He was in the Reserve Bank running club at the time. Charles discovered his second melanoma on his right forearm 20 years ago while he was working as a taxi driver.

When his third melanoma was found on his shoulder seven years ago in 2010, Charles was referred to Dr Alvin Chong, dermatologist who he currently has regular check-up with every six months.

“Dr Alvin Chong is an expert and knows what he’s doing. I am lucky to have him looking after me,” says Charles Harcoan.

“All my life I have been outdoors in the sun. Aussie men didn’t use sunscreen back then, just wore shorts and boots. We didn’t know much about what melanoma was in the 50’s and 60’s. There was no publicity about how you could die from it and to use sunscreen. We all used coconut oil to tan- that was the culture back then. I ran 37 Melbourne marathons and used to spend the summer at a caravan on the beach with my wife, two sons and daughter swimming, surfing and sunbaking.”

“My daughter, who is nurse, discovered my fourth melanoma in the middle of my back near my spine four years ago in 2013. I would have been dead within two months if she had not spotted it. I was very lucky as I would not have known it was there and it didn’t have time to spread internally.”

A fifth melanoma was found on Charles’s other shoulder two years ago in 2015. All of his melanomas have been removed with surgery, the most recent ones by a plastic surgeon.

“The anaesthetist has seen me so many times, he joked that they should name a wing of the hospital after me.”

“Despite having advanced melanomas, I have never felt sick and there has been no disruption to my working life. I currently work as a gardener. I have now run 81 marathons, coming first in the over 75 category for a few.”

“I cover up- always wear a shirt, hat and sunscreen, don’t go to the beach, don’t go outside if it’s over 30 degrees and have switched to the Gold Coast marathon in winter. There has been a lot of publicity about slip, slop slap, a lady who got melanoma from a solarium in Melbourne and the AFL footballer who got a melanoma on his lip.”

“I’m planning to keep fit and healthy to make it to my 95th birthday so that I can attend my granddaughter’s 21st birthday. I like to be active so hopefully I will still be mowing lawns and bike riding for a while.”

“My advice is don’t go laying out in the sun. Cover up, use more sunscreen and stay in the shade. Get you General Practitioner to check you regularly, every six months, and ask them for a follow up appointment if you have had a spot removed. Hopefully my story helps someone.”