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Personal cancer story

Kate von Stieglitz

Age when diagnosed: 23

Cancer type: Melanoma

I was at work on Tuesday 19th March 2019 when I got the phone call no 23 year old wants to hear. Let’s rewind back to about 2 years ago, when I noticed a freckle on my leg had grown slightly larger. I was aware that one of the symptoms of a melanoma was growth, so I thought I should get it checked just to be safe. The first doctor said it was fine, however my gut told me otherwise. I went back for a second opinion and they also assured me that it was fine. I still wasn’t convinced. Every time I was at the beach I would put my thumb over that freckle to protect if from the sun, even after I got it looked at twice.

About a month ago I booked in to get a skin check. The skin specialist was aware of my concern for this one freckle just above my left knee. He looked at it and told me he wasn’t worried, however “a lot of doctors don’t listen to their patients enough, so for your peace of mind we should just remove it”. The appointment was booked for Tuesday just after the Monday public holiday.

I was quite busy that week with work, and had just received a message from Launceston Health Hub to say “you have an appt at LHH with Dr. Lifshen on 12/03/19. To confirm reply yes. To cancel/change call 6388 8111 to avoid fee”. I thought to myself, the doctor wasn’t too worried and I’m pretty busy, I’ll just cancel and get it checked again in a years time or whatever...

I’m sharing this story to raise awareness about how important it is to get your skin checked. Not once, not twice but numerous times."

I rang to cancel but because it was a public holiday, nobody answered... so I kept the appointment to get my freckle removed the next day. All went well and they sent away my little freckle for testing.

Turns out, the universe aligned for me...

I received a phone call from Dr. Lifshen the next week to say my test results had come back. He paused for a few seconds and took a breath, “so your results have shown your freckle to be a melanoma”. He continued on to explain more information about my case, however I was in so much shock I didn’t take too much on board.

A week later I was booked in to have 10mm of each side further removed. I’m currently bandaged up but on the mend.

I’m sharing this story to raise awareness about how important it is to get your skin checked. Not once, not twice but numerous times. If your gut is telling you something’s wrong, it’s generally right. If I hadn’t have listened to my body and kept persisting, Dr. Lifshen said I would be in a much different position in a years time.

Please, please, please book in for a skin cancer appt. and use protection when in the sun, a tan isn’t worth the harms it can cause.

Bit of a scar but hey, I can just tell people that I got bitten by a shark! Or an even cooler story, I got onto my melanoma quick enough to save my life!

It is important to check your skin regularly. If you notice a change in shape, size or colour of a spot, see your doctor. Use the 5 types of sun protection whenever the UV is 3 and above to protect yourself daily.

Read more about how to check for signs of skin cancer.