Michelle Kitchenman, 40, is the healthiest ever. Fit, happy and about to embark on the 300km trek from Canberra to Sydney. skin cancer research.
Six years ago, her life wasn’t quite as rosy as it should have been. Kitchenman and her 47-year-old husband Lee had just given birth to their third child, daughter Lyla, and are enjoying their completed family.
Then one noticed mole on the back of your neck changed.
«It got stuck in my dresses and shirts,» the Sydney mom told 9Honey. “Suddenly it appeared, suddenly I felt it.
“I wasn’t worried at all. I was very naive. There was no pain or bleeding.
«I went to the skin cancer clinic to have it removed because it bothered me. It felt funny like it didn’t belong.»
Kitchenman was told to return to the clinic in two weeks for test results, and he admitted that he «delayed follow-up for weeks.»
«I was naive, I knew about skin cancer, but I guess I didn’t really think it would happen to me.»
“I went back and knew that the expression on the doctor’s face was melanoma and I needed to go to the hospital to make sure the margins were clear and take more skin,” she recalls.
«He said he couldn’t and sent me to a surgical oncologist.»
Studies show that melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanoma Institute Australia. It develops in the skin’s pigment cells known as melanocytes and can spread through the blood and lymphatic system to distant organs such as the lungs, liver, and brain.
Australia has the highest Skin cancer Around the world, approximately two out of three people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, with melanoma being the most dangerous.
“I was naive, I knew about skin cancer, but I guess I didn’t really think it would happen to me,” Kitchenman says. «I didn’t know how serious it could be. When the doctor gave me the surgical oncologist’s card, I realized how serious it was, and I spoke to my mother and she said, ‘This is not good.'»
She says she shares her husband’s innocence.
«‘Can’t they cut it?’ And I said, ‘No, this is really serious. I have to go to Westmead.’ [hospital] to check my lymph nodes to see if it has spread.»
More skin was removed at the hospital, and Kitchenman spent another two weeks waiting for the results.
«At this stage, it was Christmas Day 2016 and the test felt like it had spread, so I had to have the lymph nodes on the left of my neck removed, and that’s when they also asked for whole body scans.»
Kitchenman remembers this as the scariest time of his life.
«I felt most scared that week,» she says.
“I used to think it might not be the worst case and then I would turn around and think it could happen and go from one to the other. My husband was really good.
«We had a friend with breast cancer and they just told us to get out of the house so let’s go to the park or for a walk but as soon as we got home it would crash again.»
When the results came in, Kitchenman was told that despite being diagnosed with Stage 3, the cancer had not spread further.
The most effective treatment available for melanoma at the time was called Interferon.
«It actually wasn’t too bad, it felt like flu-like symptoms,» she explains. “But I had depression and started taking antidepressants. I had to go to the hospital every month for treatment.
«The first month was the hardest because I was on a really high dose.»
The treatment worked, Kitcheman’s surgical wound healed, and the mother of three was left to move on.
“The wound healed very well, going from my collarbone to my neck,” he explains. «I lost all feeling there because they had to cut my nerve. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve adjusted. Some say they didn’t notice the scar.»
These days, Kitchenman’s kids are as safe from the sun as possible, including Sienna, 11, Jayden, nine, Lyla, six.
It urges Australians to book a skin check and continue regularly.
“I remember wanting to get over it during my treatment and then I wanted to start running,” Kitchenman says.
“I have always wanted to run, but never had the motivation. After the treatment, I started running and reached my goal of being able to run five kilometers.
«I’m running a half marathon now and planning to run 50 kilometers next year. I go to the gym and I love it. I work out free weights.»
This weekend, Kitcheman will walk 300 kilometers from Canberra to Sydney. Jay’s Mission Melanoma Walk.
The 10-day walk led by melanoma survivor Jay Allen OAM encourages people to join any part of the journey and support the cause by donating to the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation (ASCF), which he founded to raise money for research and support. , education and driver advocacy for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
“I’ve never walked 300 miles before, so I don’t know what to expect,” Kitchenman says.
«Compared to melanoma, I think it will be easy. I will walk with people who have lost loved ones, and my daughter Sienna will do the last nine kilometers with me, and my wife and two more children will be waiting for us at the finish line.»
visit www.autralianskincancerfoundation.org to learn how you can support the cause.
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