Mother-to-one and marketing specialist, Megan, 48, Sydney, was diagnosed with skin cancer when she was only 35, despite leading a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Megan, whose mother has also been diagnosed with skin cancer just this year, believes her dermatologist may well have saved her life after an initial biopsy came back inconclusive.
Eventually receiving the shocking news she had a melanoma, Megan had to undergo surgery to have the affected area cut out and now urges other Australians to prioritise their skin health and avoid putting their lives at risk.
In between working hard in her role as a marketing specialist for a large drinks company, Megan spends her days running after her nine-year-old daughter, catching up with friends and even squeezing in training for a half marathon.
She’s always tried to stay fit and healthy, but 13 years ago she noticed a mole on her forehead that had grown slightly larger.
“I didn’t think about it too much, but I had noticed a change with a mole on my head, so I thought it was the sensible thing to get it checked out.”
“Despite being quite olive skinned, I do have quite a few freckles and moles and have spent a lot of time out in the sun throughout my life,” said Megan.
“I visited my GP, who told me that the mole on my head looked normal but she wanted to do a full body check to make sure I didn’t have any others that were suspicious. That was when she found a worrying mole on my ankle and referred me to a dermatologist straight away.”
Megan had to wait a month to see a dermatologist as appointments were so hard to come by but once she had her consultation, she was impressed with the care and attention paid to her.
“My dermatologist made me feel like she had all the time in the world to examine me and when the biopsy came back as inconclusive, she recommended removing the mole to get some more thorough tests done.
“That was when I received the shocking news that it was in fact a melanoma. My dermatologist referred me to the Melanoma Institute and it was there they advised I have a wider area surgically cut out to make sure it was completely removed,” Megan said.
“I ended up having to have a 2cm by 4cm piece of my skin cut out and it was a real wake up call for me. I had no idea I’d have to go through so much thanks to an inconspicuous looking mole. Now my mother is going through something similar with one on her nose and even required a skin graft.”
Megan now ensures she gets her skin checked every year and keeps a close eye on it herself. But recently she’s found it difficult to get an appointment, despite her history of skin cancer, and after being told she’d have to wait eight months, she was forced to search for a new dermatologist.
“Having to leave my dermatologist, who knew my history and who had treated me so well, because she was too busy was particularly frustrating and I worry that if I develop another melanoma, I won’t be able to get it treated in time before it progresses.
“That’s why it’s particularly important for all Australians, particularly those who are younger and may feel it’s not something that will affect them yet, to conduct regular skin checks and go straight to your GP if you spot something different. They can refer you to a specialist dermatologist if necessary and it’s best to get on that path as soon as you can.”