Skin cancer smarts in the spotlight

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser

Cathryn Patmore was just 12 years old when she discovered her first melanoma.

She noticed the mole on her chest turning larger and gaining spots and had it removed instantly.

Because skin cancer was prominent in her family, the now 18-year-old knew exactly what to look for and how to prevent it.

“As I detected the mole very early and had it cut out straight away, I didn’t have to get chemotherapy or any treatment,” she said. “Then when I was 16, I had a freckle on my arm that was removed. It was a pre-melanoma, which at the time I had it removed wasn’t too dangerous but the longer I left it, it would have been.”

This week marks Skin Cancer Awareness Week and Ms Patmore encourages people to know their skin and be sun smart.

“I always had the mole on my chest but it turned nasty when I was between 11 and 12 and that’s when I got it removed and since then I have always been really wary of my skin,” she said.

“It’s been in my family, so it’s always been something I have been aware of.”

Cathryn Patmore, 18 got her first melanoma when she was just 12 years old.
Camera IconCathryn Patmore, 18 got her first melanoma when she was just 12 years old. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Ms Patmore said although she was no stranger to the cancer after watching her grandmother and great-grandmother fight the disease, her age was a concern.

“Being so young and having to constantly check my skin is worrying but now I know how important it is to be sun smart,” she said. “Having this awareness week is important because it could happen to anyone, whether it is hereditary or not.”

Ms Patmore, a hairdresser, said she was cutting a client’s hair last year and noticed he had a mole.

“I saw a mole on the back of his neck, so I encouraged him to go get it checked out and he came back to me and said thank you as it turned out it was a melanoma ... another one of my regular clients came in on Tuesday and asked if I could look at a lump under a mole just below his eye, so he will be checking that out at the hospital. Early detection is the key so if I can spot something on someone using my own experience, I will,” she said.

The latest report from the WA Cancer Registry showed in 2014, 1.304 West Australians were diagnosed with melanoma and 153 died from melanoma.

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