Wednesday 21 February 2018

'No red carpet is rolled out for melanoma'

Anne O'Leary: melanoma
Anne O'Leary: melanoma

David Kearns

'Should I be worried about this freckle?' is a question with which Anne O'Leary is all too familiar.

Diagnosed with stage three melanoma less than four years ago, the retired schoolteacher works tirelessly to create awareness of this deadly type of skin cancer.

"I do get tired of being asked that question because no one would walk up to someone with breast cancer and ask about a lump," she says.

"I'm stage four now, which means eventually the cancer will spread to my organs.

"At the moment, my treatment involves surgery every few months because no matter how much they cut away, it keeps coming back."

After knee surgery four years ago, Anne (44) noticed a scratch on a freckle on her thigh. This soon developed into a "blister-like lesion".

"I've always been a smiley person, so when I got the news that it was melanoma, I didn't think too much about it, mostly because I didn't know what it was.

"Even the nurses didn't seem too alarmed.

"It was only when my GP called to say how sorry they were that I thought something was very wrong."

She added: "(Skin cancer) isn't like breast cancer; no one rolls out the red carpet for you. Most people still seem to think that it isn't too serious.

"Well, I'm here to tell them it is. It might not have cancer in its name but melanoma is deadly if it is not caught early. So please, protect yourself and your children."

To help warn about the dangers of UV, Anne started the 'Sunny Days Melanoma Cancer Awareness' campaign, which promotes a 'No hat, no play' rule in the schoolyard.

Irish Independent

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