PATIENT AND EXPERT STORIES
Father‐to‐three, IT company co‐founder & keen surfer, who was first diagnosed with skin cancer in his 30s,
As a young boy through to his adulthood, Tony relished a multitude of outdoor activities. An avid beach goer and surfer, his time in the sun accumulated.
At the age of 33, Tony was about to marry the love of his life. He noticed an unusual spot on his right wrist and consulted his soon‐to‐be wife for her opinion.
“She was adamant I visit a doctor to have it assessed before we were married. If she hadn’t pushed me, I would likely have left it longer. I managed to get an appointment with a local dermatologist, Dr David Francis. He tested the spot and revealed it was BCC.
“I was shocked. You don’t expect to get skin cancer at the age of 32. You think your risk is no more than anyone else,” said Tony.
The once seemingly innocuous spot was removed shortly after diagnosis. Tony required no further treatment and was skin cancer free for 20 years.
“I was okay up until my 50s. Nowadays, I frequently self‐check my skin at home, since I know the risk is there. I’ll often ask my wife for a second opinion on certain spots, and she’ll check my neck and back for me too.
“I’ve noticed certain spots that have required me to go back to the dermatologist earlier than my usual six to ninemonthly appointments. I’ve now had a few BCCs removed from my chest, neck and back,” Tony said.
Alarmingly, one of Tony’s skin checks in 2016 revealed early stage melanoma.
“Hearing a diagnosis of melanoma made me feel sick. BCCs aren’t good obviously, but melanoma is usually what you associate with something much more serious. It was always something I thought other people had.
“Luckily, I had the support of my dermatologist, the same specialist I’ve been seeing since the BCC on my wrist 20 odd years ago. He ensures anything suspicious is removed as quickly and easily as possible,” said Tony.
Numerous encounters with skin cancer have left Tony with a heightened awareness of sun protection and the importance of regular skin checks.
“We didn’t have the breadth of knowledge about sun protection when I was young. I’m a lot more cautious now, given everything I’ve experienced. When I go on my annual surfing trips, I’m protected with a long sleeved rashie, hat and sunscreen.
“I’m happy to get my skin checked as often as I need to. Sometimes you might have to have something removed, but that’s better than skin cancer,” Tony said.
Tony is encouraging all Australians, especially men over the age of 50, to be aware of their own skin and not shy away from professional check‐ups.
“Some people might see skin checks as an inconvenience, but it should just be a fact of life living in Australia. If you have a spot you can’t explain, you need to get it checked out. The alternative option of leaving it there could kill you.
“A lot of men my age had a similar childhood, a lot of time unprotected in the sun. Now we have to get our skin checked in order to stay healthy, and that’s ok. It’s just something you have to do.”