I spent many years in the sun because I suffered from acne on my back and felt that having a tan would disguise it, and the sun would help it heal.

In September 2011, I discovered an annoying lump on my back and when I reached round to try to feel it, there was something rough next to it. Obviously being on my back it was difficult to see so I asked my wife Jeanette to have a closer inspection.

What she observed was an abnormal looking mole and she suggested I have it looked at by the dermatologist. The mole turned out to be a malignant melanoma. I was incredibly lucky to have found it while it was still in the early stages. It could have easily gone undetected.

The next step was surgery where I had the melanoma and a large amount of surrounding tissue removed. The surgeon was unable to remove the lymph nodes, therefore I have ultrasound scans every three months to ensure they remain cancer free.

Speaking as someone who’s been there, it’s vital that men, especially those of us over 45, protect themselves in the sun and have regular skin checks, particularly those areas such as the back where it’s difficult to detect skin changes yourself.

Jeanette says: “Garry and I had just returned from a long holiday when Garry asked me to have a look at something unusual, he could feel on his back. There was a mole that looked different from all the others, and I suggested that we get it checked out by the dermatologist sooner rather than later. When the melanoma diagnosis came back it was devastating. You never think it will happen to you or your family.”

Garry has since had two more skin cancers removed from his back which thankfully were basal cell carcinomas and not melanoma. He is due to have another ultrasound before Christmas to check that none of the melanoma cells have spread.


Western Australia

New South Wales

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