LAUNCH OF STATE OF THE NATION REPORT BY MELANOMA INSTITUTE OF AUSTRALIA
WEDNESDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2022
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
I was diagnosed two and a half years ago.
I noticed a tiny little black dot in the middle of a mole on my leg.
I convinced myself it was something to worry about. I convinced my doctor to cut it out. And I am glad I did. Might have saved my life.
It’s hardly visible now, but after the operation my leg looked like I had been bitten by shark.
There were about 52 stitches and I posted a photo and put it on Facebook asking people to get a skin check.
One of the people who saw that post was a mate of mine here in the Parliament, Graeme Perrett, a politician from Queensland.
We were at an event a few months later and he took me aside, unbuttoned his shirt and revealed a big vertical scar in the middle of his chest. He just looked at me and he said ‘thank you’.
Two more of my friends here in Parliament House have had melanomas cut out since then.
One of them is Jim Chalmers, the bloke who could become the Treasurer in a few months’ time if we win the election.
And the other is Linda Burney. A proud Wiradjuri woman.
This is not just a disease that affects people with skin like mine.
Another friend of mine is online. Her name is Christine.
Around the same time I was diagnosed she was having a birthday party when her husband Jeff got rushed to hospital. He thought he had a slipped disc or pinched nerve.
Turns out it was a tumour. There were three of them. Two on his spine. One in his lung.
Jeff has stage 4 melanoma. And they still can’t find the primary mole.
But Jeff is lucky too. He’s fighting it.
As Professor Long told me once, ten years ago people like Jeff were told to go home and write a will.
The work people at this event have done, has changed that.
For that, on behalf of my friend Christine and Jeff and everyone out there still alive and still fighting, thank you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
But people are also still dying.
One every six hours.
And according to this report that we are launching today 18,000 people will die from this horrible disease in the next decade or so.
18,000 mums and dads, nans and pops, kids who are fit and healthy today. Or at least think we think we are.
This report has got recommendations in it that can potentially save these lives.
Funding for research, training for GPs, awareness campaigns, a National Melanoma Nurse Service for patients and survivors.
And one I am particularly interested in, the potential for a National Targeted Screening Program.
We had hoped to launch this report here in Parliament House today, but unfortunately Covid means we can’t hold events here at the moment.
Covid has done something else too.
Last year, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma dropped by about 20 percent.
That might sound like its good news but it’s not.
The only reason the number of people diagnosed last year dropped so much is because fewer of us went to the doctor and got a skin check.
This is one of the deadliest legacies of the last two years.
There are thousands of melanomas out there that should have been checked and cut out last year that are there, growing and spreading.
I hope the decision makers read this report and act on it.
But I also just hope that lots of other Aussies hear about it, see stories about it on the TV tonight, and think about their own skin – and book in that skin check that they put off last year.
Because if they do that, we are already on our way to saving some of those 18,000 lives.
MEDIA CONTACT: ARLEY BLACK 02 9790 2466