Two-and-a-half years ago Wauchope’s Matt Love was given just 12 weeks to live.
The businessman and rally enthusiast is now ‘cancer-free’ but says he will probably have regular testings every eight weeks. He says that’s a small price to pay.
Matt and wife Michelle attended Thursday’s launch of the NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy with Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, and chief executive Mid North Coast Local Health District, Stewart Dowrick.
At that launch, Nambucca, Bellingen, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie-Hastings were identified as NSW melanoma hotspots.
Matt, who was initially misdiagnosed, says his journey has been hard. “But we are getting through it,” he said.
“Initially I was misdiagnosed. I was told that the mole on my face was nothing to worry about. A few weeks later it started to bleed and a few blokes said that I should get it checked.
“But I really thought I was safe. Then one day it started to bleed and it didn’t stop. So I got another opinion and that doctor took a sample to test.”
Two days later Matt’s doctor asked him to come back because ‘the news isn’t good’.
From there his journey has included attending Melanoma Institute Australia. He has had two brain tumors removed, while a third tumor, which is just 4mm, will be removed once it reaches 2cm.
He also underwent some ‘pretty serious’ radiation therapy.
Matt and Michelle are strong supporters of the annual Melanoma March each year. The couple also participate in a range of fundraising activities.
The couple say they will continue Matt’s health regime ‘until the research finds something better, finds a cure’.
Prof Currow said 4900 people across NSW will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2018.
“Unfortunately, 260 of those will be right here on the Mid North Coast,” he said.
“But, 95 per cent of melanomas and 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers are preventable by protecting yourself from UV.
“Our message for the people of the Mid North Coast is to take action to protect your skin, it could save your life.
“When the UV is high, which is almost year round on the mid north coast, seek shade, apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every two hours and wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing.”
The NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy sees government and non-government organisations across the State collaborating to prevent skin cancers.
Dr Chant said that collaboration was key to making positive change to the health of the community.
“This strategy makes preventing skin cancer everyone’s business, from individuals to government and from non-government organisations to community groups,” Dr Chant said.
“This collaborative approach gives us the best chance of reducing the impact of skin cancer in NSW.”
Mr Dowrick said people on the Mid North Coast are spoiled by our access to wonderful weather and beautiful beaches. However, this means we need to be even more vigilant in protecting ourselves from the sun’s harmful effects, he said.