Cancer survivor tells her story

Ellie HoneyboneGeraldton Guardian

Elizabeth Jenkinson knows a little about dealing with cancer after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma 18 months ago.

The Cancer Council WA regional support co-ordinator and mum-of-two believes early detection of the cancer was vital in saving her life.

“I had a mole on my arm that began to change around the time I was pregnant, so I went to a skin clinic to be checked,” Ms Jenkinson said.

“I was told it was nothing to worry about but, after a while, a few people began to notice the mole and ask me about it.

“I was at the GP with my sick son one day and the doctor noticed my arm and after one look said it needed to be removed immediately.

“The mole was removed but it returned as malignant melanoma.”

The tumour was 0.6mm deep and any tumour deeper than 1mm into the skin has a high risk of spreading into the blood stream of lymph nodes.

“It was amazing that we managed to catch it so early,” she said.

“It is really important that people get their skin checked regularly and keep an eye on their moles.”

After moving to Geraldton, Ms Jenkinson was looking for a professional job that would provide her with some meaning and began working at the Cancer Council.

“I have found it to be a very rewarding and challenging job,” she said.

“I like to think that I bring something to the job having been diagnosed with cancer before.

“It can be very scary when you are first diagnosed and it is my job to provide financial, practical and psychosocial support to cancer patients.

“We also help patients with transport and accommodation arrangements if they need to go to Perth for treatment.”

People worldwide marked World Cancer Day on February 4, sharing stories of survival and raising awareness to reduce the global cancer burden.

The Cancer Council WA has been promoting its Find Cancer Early campaign in regional WA.

Early detection is especially important for Australians living regionally and remotely as they have higher rates of cancer and less chance of survival than those living in major cities.

Survival rates are improving.

More than 67 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer today will still be alive in five years’ time.

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