Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) is calling on Tamworth residents to join its 2023 Melanoma March campaign at Bicentennial Park to support the psychological health and wellbeing of their fellow Aussies living with advanced cancer, and to help tackle Australia’s tanning culture.
About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, while over 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with Melanoma each year – a diagnosis rate so high it is known as Australia’s national cancer.
Tamworth local and sun safety advocate Adam Brook was diagnosed in 2019 at the age of 27 with stage four melanoma and said it came as a real shock.
“I was relatively fit and active, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the sun, and I always tried to do the right thing with sun protection,” said Adam.
“So, to be diagnosed with advanced melanoma at the age of 27; to hear that you are terminally ill is a pretty big shock to the system and a hard pill to swallow.”
Adam is one of the fortunate ones who is now cancer free four years later and is thankful for the MIA.
“Thankfully, with team at the Melanoma Institute, I was able to get access to clinical trials for immunotherapy and here I am cancer free four years later.”
Adam's stage four melanoma diagnosis came as a shock, as he thought he was doing enough to protect his skin as a young Australian.
For Adam, marching at Bicentennial Park is about spreading awareness that skin cancer doesn’t just affect the farmer in the sun all day but instead, it more commonly affects younger Australians.
“It is very common among young Australians, especially those who spend many hours in the sun tanning,” said Adam.
“We all know the affects of the sun but for some reason, we choose not to protect ourselves in light of getting a tan.”
Melanoma March Tamworth is part of MIA’s 12th annual Melanoma March campaign which needs to raise $1 million for Australia’s first clinical trial aimed to treat fear of cancer recurrence experienced by those with advanced disease.
The trial will focus on identifying and supporting advanced melanoma patients experiencing fear and anxiety about their melanoma recurring or progressing, with the findings also set to benefit other cancer patients.
“Supportive care is one of the top five priorities identified in the landmark State of the Nation Report into Melanoma,” MIA CEO Matthew Browne said.
“Some forty per cent of patients reported experiencing anxiety around their diagnosis and treatment, with one in two also reporting that anxiety and depression were not identified in routine clinical practice which was a barrier to them accessing support services.”
This year’s march is also advocating to stop the glamorisation of tanning, something Adam is clearly passionate about.
March for Melanoma Tamworth is from 9am to 10:30am on Sunday March 26 at Bicentennial Park, Kable Ave. Registration is essential and can be done via https://tamworth.melanomamarch.org.au/