Wayne (65) from Waiheke Island went to the doctor six years ago to get an unusual looking mole on his back checked out. His doctor diagnosed melanoma and used a dye injection to see if the cancer had spread. It had.
Wayne, like many men, only ever went to his doctor if something was obviously wrong. And even then, only if his symptoms got bad enough that his wife would nag him to go.
Luckily for Wayne, the ‘mole incident’ was one of these occasions.
About five years ago, he noticed an odd shaped mole on his back. He told his wife Noeline and she convinced him to go to his doctor and get it checked out.
His doctor diagnosed the mole as a melanoma skin cancer, and using a dye solution, discovered the cancer had spread to one of his lymph nodes.
Luckily for Wayne and his family the diagnosis came early enough to be effectively treated, and he had the affected lymph node removed, and hoped that would be the end of it.
Because he had a family history of skin cancer (both his brothers had skin cancers removed), Wayne kept a close eye out for any unusual changes or marks on his skin. So, three years later, when he had a scab on his forehead that wasn’t healing, he went to see his doctor about it. This time, it was diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma, and again, because it was diagnosed early on, he had it safely and effectively removed in day surgery.
After this, Wayne started having routine skin checks every three months. With no further signs showing, this has now increased to every six months.
Most melanomas are caused by skin exposure and sunburn. Wayne remembers a few summers of bad sunburn.
“When I was growing up and surfing in the 60s and 70s, sunscreen wasn’t really a “thing”. When our kids were young, we would make sure they wore sunscreen during the summer, but it was only if I was going to spend a day at the beach or on the boat that I would use the stuff”.
Wayne is now extra vigilant about limiting his sun exposure – wearing a hat, and using sunscreen when out playing golf, in the garden or at the beach, which, living on Waiheke, is most of the time.