Great Barrier Island local Lisa Davenport uses airtime during her weekly Friday morning Aotea FM radio show to help raise awareness about melanoma.
Like so many other New Zealanders, melanoma runs in Lisa’s family. She lost her uncle last year from the disease, and she, her mother, and her daughter have all had melanomas removed.
After her mother had melanoma, Lisa became extra conscious of checking her skin and other people’s skin too. When she noticed a spot on her daughter’s neck, she encouraged her to go to the doctor, where a biopsy confirmed it was melanoma.
She said the family was shocked because, unlike Lisa and her mother, her daughter never spent time in the sun.
Lisa’s diagnosis two years ago came after having three biopsies done at her local GP. One showed she had melanoma. She travelled to Auckland to have it surgically removed. Fortunately, because it was small and caught early, no further treatment was needed.
Now, Lisa always uses sunscreen, covers herself with clothing and stays out of the sun during the peak hours of the day.
“I keep an eye on my freckles and any new spots and talk to the doctor if I’m concerned about anything. My doctor also recommended going to a skin specialist every year for a thorough check-up, which I do.”
Lisa joined the Melanoma Support “Melahomies United” Facebook group, which she said can be, at times, quite sad but also humorous and incredibly supportive to those people going through tough times.
There is another support group, Melanoma Support New Zealand, which is an excellent place for melanoma patients and their family members to share their experiences and navigate their journey with others going through similar experiences.
Lisa said her radio audience constantly gets a rev-up about their sun exposure and listeners are encouraged to check their skin. She uses examples like Bob Marley dying of melanoma to point out that it can happen to anyone, no matter what colour your skin is.
When our team visited Great Barrier Island in April, thanks to a grant from the Great Barrier Community Organisations Grants Scheme, word spread fast, and our nurse was fully booked.