Olivia’s melanoma story: “A spontaneous decision saved my life”
A spontaneous decision to get a skin cancer check saved Olivia Jackson’s life.
Two weeks before her 21st birthday, Olivia was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. She had been sun-safe all her life, with no personal or family history of skin cancer, and this was her first skin check.
“Mum’s had multiple skin checks throughout her life,” says Olivia. “She was going to book me in, but I wasn’t concerned. Skin cancer doesn’t run in my family.
“The doctor told me there was a worrisome mole. It was only three millimetres, so I never saw it on my back.
“The doctor said if I’d waited four months or so, it would be a completely different story right now. It would probably be someone else sharing my story.”
After receiving her diagnosis, the hardest part was telling her loved ones.
“I was very shocked. It’s not something you expect. It’s the last thing on your mind.”
Olivia thinks most people are indifferent about their skin cancer risk.
“My friends said this wasn’t something they thought about – that they’d have to get a skin check.”
Every minute an Australian is diagnosed with skin cancer. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians aged 15 to 29 years.
Olivia now advocates for everyone to get regular skin checks.
“I just encourage people to take 30 minutes out of their day to get a skin check because you’re putting 30 minutes back into your future.”
Skin Cancer Doctor Zarli Kyaw at the Berwick and Officer Skin Cancer Centres says annual skin checks are incredibly important for early detection and can produce potentially life-saving results.
“With something as serious and life-threatening as skin cancer, the earlier we detect it, the higher the chances are of successful treatment,“ says Dr Kyaw.
“It’s important to take the appropriate steps from prevention to detection.”
Contact Berwick Skin Cancer Centre (9769 3358) or Officer Skin Cancer Centre (5940 5006) or visit skincancercentres.com.au/vic.