Chance Encounters

Mar 6, 2023 | News, Stories

Once again, our Melanoma New Zealand Spot Check Van was very busy at the latest Mystery Creek Fieldays, where our nurses saw 745 people and found 106 suspicious lesions during the four-day event.

Pulling off such a great result was due to the team’s effort to manage the eager crowds, with support from our rural partner FMG, who lent us some of their crew to volunteer on our site.

One of the highlights of the event was a visit from Ross Johnston, who took time out of his busy day to thank our now semi-retired Melanoma Nurse Educator, Gill Rolfe, for successfully identifying a melanoma at one of our community spot check events just a few months earlier in the Coromandel.

In July, Ross heard through the local Visitor and Information Centre that our Spot Check Van was coming to the Coromandel and decided to get a mole his wife had identified on his back checked.

Gill was providing the free spot checks that day and agreed that the mole needed further investigation and subsequently made a referral to Ross’s GP. Ross said his GP then sent an image of his mole to Te Whatu Ora in Waikato, and he was advised that the mole needed to be excised immediately.

Te Whatu Ora contacted him soon after to tell him the excision area had to be extended to ensure they had removed all the cancer cells and further surgery was done a month later by a plastic surgeon at Thames Hospital.

Fortunately, the histology report confirmed that no other cancer cells were detected. Ross said he was very relieved after already having three Basal Cell Carcinomas removed in the past.

Ross’s father had also successfully been treated for melanoma in his eye, so he was aware of the risks and signs of melanoma and would advise anyone with a suspicious mole or spot to go to their GP to check it immediately.

I learned through this process that melanomas come in all shapes and sizes, and the only way to ensure that any mole or spot is OK is to seek professional advice immediately. It could save your life.”

Ross said he was so happy to see Gill working at the Melanoma New Zealand site at Fieldays.

“It was a chance meeting with the same person I attribute to my textbook identification and treatment of my melanoma.”

“I can only say how much I am indebted to Melanoma New Zealand’s service, as it catalysed my eventual successful treatment.

“Again, a big thank you to your team and service.”

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