My name is Grahame Pilgrim, aged 72 from the north side of Brisbane. I have worked in the sun most of my life and I would like to share my story about being diagnosed with melanomas.
My first encounter was in approximately 2006 during my regular skin check. I asked my dermatologist about a mark on my forearm and he said it was nothing, only an age spot. I took that on board and left after having a few sun spots burnt off. My next appointment came around and that age spot had increased in size, so before he could say anything I said I wanted a biopsy taken. His words were, “Grahame, you are worrying, it’s nothing,” so he did the biopsy and I left his surgery. The next day I received a phone call from him saying, “You had better come into my surgery. It is a level 1 melanoma and I have to resize it.” He carried out the incision with wider margins and came back all clear and that was a relief.
Twelve months later when I visited his surgery, I mentioned that I had another spot on my shoulder. Once again, he said it was an age spot and I was worrying about nothing. I said, “I want another biopsy done because you said the last one was nothing.” He carried out the biopsy and it came back as another level 1 melanoma, so he called me back to have it resized the next morning. He resized it and the results came back that he had not got a clear margin and a non-pigmented melanoma was deeper down and as a result I had more surgery a lot wider, deeper and a longer incision to get the required margins. My uncle had died many years ago from this same rare form of melanoma. After he stitched me up, he said if I have to go back in again, I will need groper fishing line, but the resize margins were clear.
I am very vigilant with my health and have skin checks every three months since being diagnosed with melanoma, especially the non-pigmented type. One of my family members had one on his back as a result it claimed his life. Please don’t think all Melanomas are the same as they are not.
As my dermatologist was reluctant to carry out biopsies, I decided not to have him look after my skin any further.
In July this year I decided to do Efudix treatment on my face as it was becoming scaly. There was a small 5mm flat round brown mark on my temple and after finishing the treatment I noticed that the mark had changed in size so I asked my doctor to do a biopsy and the results came back Lentigo Malign Stage 1 Melanoma. My doctor called me into his surgery and phoned a surgeon to resize the Melanoma. I now have a 50mm scar on my temple and a slant eye from the surgery but I have my life.
After having four melanomas removed, I decided to contact the Australian Melanoma Research Foundation about my story. Most people think that melanomas are black raised and jagged shape. Mine were nothing like that, just flat, round and brown in colour. If you suspect something is not right get it checked out as soon as you can.
I want to help raise funds for research by donating $10.00 from the sale of my Reverse Mate, which is an aid to help caravaners reverse their caravans, until the 31st December 2021 and then $5.00 indefinitely from that date.
In the event anyone would like to talk to me about my story, please do not hesitate to contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish good health to all.