PATIENT AND EXPERT STORIES
Close call for father‐to‐two who was diagnosed with skin cancer after a chance meeting with a doctor
In September 2017, Jeffrey was working on a construction site at a doctor’s home when his client noticed a mole on his neck and suggested he get it checked by an expert.
“I was working on a job for a doctor when he approached me about a suspicious looking mole on my neck. I was really surprised, as I didn’t even know it was there because of where it was positioned,” said Jeffrey.
Three days later, Jeffrey visited his GP for a skin check.
“I booked in to see my GP as soon as I arrived home from work that day. After my doctor examined the mole, he contacted a dermatologist right away, and recommended I visit her immediately.
“Despite her full schedule at the time, the dermatologist made time to see me that very same day.
“The dermatologist reassured me that I was in safe hands before taking a biopsy which was subsequently taken away to the laboratory for testing,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey received a call from the dermatologist three days later and nervously returned to her practice to collect his test results.
“My dermatologist informed me that my mole was a melanoma in situ and removed it on the spot. It ended up being a five‐inch lesion, so I was very lucky that I had it examined when I did, otherwise the outcome could have been much worse.
“I’m so relieved to be under the care of a dermatologist now, as I had to return yet again last month to get a melanocytic nevus (mole) removed. I wouldn’t have spotted this one either if it weren’t for that initial recommendation by the doctor on my job site.
“I’m so thankful my dermatologist is on top of things. She consistently offers me excellent advice and talks me through any necessary treatment,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey understands the importance of visiting his GP for a skin check every six months, given his father was similarly diagnosed with melanoma on his neck and his ear, which led to half of his ear being removed. Yet up until recently, Jeffrey, who is otherwise fit and healthy, never fully appreciated he was at such high risk aged in his fifties.
“I knew I was at some sort of risk because I spent a lot of time in the sun when I was growing up, along with the fact that my father developed melanoma, but I always tried to protect myself from the sun. Now, when I’m outdoors, I wear a wide‐brimmed hat, a ‘rashie’ at the beach, and I even wear nylon covers on my arms when I play golf, but the damage has already been done.
“I’d always planned on getting my skin checked in my sixties, because that’s when my dad was diagnosed with skin cancer, but because I’m a bit younger, I assumed it wasn’t time to think about it just yet,” said Jeffrey.
Having since learned that an Australian dies every five hours from skin cancer, and experiencing various skin cancer scares himself, Jeffrey recommends everyone visits their GP and asks for a skin check, especially if they recognise something changing on their skin.
“I feel extremely fortunate that the doctor for whom I was working at the time spotted a suspicious looking mole on my neck and recommended I visit my doctor urgently for examination. I still can’t believe how coincidental it was and am so thankful that it happened, it really might have saved my life. I can’t imagine leaving my wife and my two daughters behind, or how horrible this could have been for them.
“Protecting yourself involves more than just donning a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. While these protective measures are important, keeping a close eye on your skin for any changing spots or moles and visiting your doctor for regular skin checks, is the only way to really stay safe,” Jeffrey said.
“I urge every man particularly aged 50 and above, to visit their GP for a skin check sooner rather than later because you may fail to notice a suspicious mark on your skin that requires a professional second pair of eyes.
“It’s critical not to ignore the importance of maintaining skin health, because burying your head in the sand could literally kill you,” said Jeffrey.