Catherine Jameson of Cronulla knew something was wrong in 2020 when she noticed a small bump on her back growing bigger.
She trusted her instincts to see a doctor. Initially thought to be a sebaceous cyst, a biopsy confirmed it was melanoma, and she embarked on immediate treatment. Today, the 54-year-old is undergoing immunotherapy.
She said “knowing” her skin potentially saved her life.
“I didn’t get my melanoma from a changing mole, but rather from a small bump,” she said.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Most melanomas start in areas of skin that have been overexposed to the sun. But they can also occur rarely in parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun.
Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world. It is the most common cancer in Australians between the ages of 20 and 39.
In a breakdown of local government area melanoma hotspots in New South Wales, Sutherland Shire is the 11th highest. Byron Bay is the biggest hotspot. But skin cancer is highly preventable.
To help others raise awareness, Ms Jameson is taking part in the upcoming Melanoma March charity event, which runs throughout the month. He encourages the community to recoup a $1.5 million shortfall for melanoma research.
Organized by the non-profit organization Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), the campaign aims to raise awareness and funds to fight one of Australia’s biggest killers.
This year marks the 11and anniversary of the event. Its goal for 2022 is to support the world’s first personalized immunotherapy clinical trial for patients with advanced melanoma.
About 50% of patients with advanced melanoma do not respond or develop resistance to immunotherapy treatment. The clinical trial is important because it focuses on a patient’s genetics and tumor biology.
The Melanoma Walk returns after being disrupted by COVID-19 for the past two years.
Ms Jameson hopes to send an important message to her fellow Australians. She will host a walk and barbecue with friends in Cronulla.
“I want to spread skin awareness messages and raise funds for critical research for patients with advanced melanoma that will save lives,” she said.