Skin cancer find: listening to wife pays off

Jay Allen was working long hours as a truckie when the first signs of melanoma appeared on a mole on his ankle, but he put it down to blisters from his heavy work boots.

It was only his wife Janine's persistence that prompted him to get the mole checked - and it was not good news.

The Tahmoor father was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in 2008, and the cancer had spread into lymph nodes in his groin. After surgery, and six years on, Mr Allen is clear of melanoma but the experience has changed his life.

No longer working as a truck driver, he is now giving presentations to school students and raising funds to fight the deadly skin cancer through his work with Melanoma Institute Australia. He has been instrumental in setting up the inaugural Melanoma March in Wollongong on Sunday, March 23, which will be attended by institute ambassador and Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice.

"Even though I had some classic signs of melanoma, I didn't realise it and it took me six months of my wife telling me to go get checked before I went to the GP," Mr Allen said.

"The GP took one look at the mole and cut it out then and there; soon after, he confirmed that I had melanoma and sent me to see [a specialist].

"I had my first operation on February 14, 2008, and I had a biopsy, where they took out three lymph nodes from my groin and a wider area from where the melanoma was on my left ankle.

"I got the results two weeks later and the melanoma had metastasised to one lymph node in my groin and they'd also found some microscopic cells on my ankle. I'm lucky I listened to my wife, as it was well on its way to invading my body."

Subsequent surgery saw 11 lymph nodes removed from his groin, as well as tissue from his stomach and ankle.

"I was given the all-clear, but was told there was a chance it could come back," Mr Allen said. "I decided I didn't want to stay driving a truck all day just waiting for it to come back and get me.

"I wanted to find out more about melanoma, and to help fund-raise and raise awareness."

Mr Allen hopes Illawarra residents will get behind the Melanoma March at Stuart Park, Wollongong. Registrations open at 7.30am on the day or can be made online at www.melanomamarch.org.au.

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