Dialog Box

Chris' Story

CHRIS' STORY

I grew up a fair-skinned child in Melbourne and spent much of my childhood summers in the sun, so I have a lot of spots.

My wife Jenny had been keen for me to get a skin check but I always thought I was too young. In 2000, when I was 34, a family friend had a spot removed by the Skin Health Institute and that was enough for Jenny – she booked me into the Skin Health Institute. I did not know much about skin cancer, or the Skin Health Institute – I had heard of melanoma but didn’t realise there were different sorts of skin cancer.

On the day of my appointment, I assumed I was just going in for a skin check. I was assessed by both a dermatology registrar and then Professor Robin Marks. It was only years later that I realised how senior Professor Marks was in his field. I had a couple of spots of interest to him, so he told me that we’d get them biopsied. I was surprised to find out they could do the biopsies immediately. I came home that day with some stitches on my abdomen and some on my lower back where the spots had been removed.

A week later I was called back in to the Skin Health Institute for my results. I had a feeling that being called back in was not going to be great news. I was called into a room with Professor Marks, who told me that the biopsy had come back and it was a melanoma. It had been completely excised, but needed to be re-excised to achieve a ‘safe’ margin.

Over the next few years I received further checks, to ensure that the melanoma hadn’t spread. I was very pleased to be regularly seen by more than one set of eyes each time I came in. The Skin Health Institute, being a teaching facility, has meant that I’m seen by both a registrar and a consultant. All the registrars were interested in my story, always tried to offer techniques to improve self-diagnosis and also how to look after my skin. The consultants were always there to oversee and confirm and gave consistency across visits.

Since 2001 I have multiple biopsies, several in-situ melanoma removed and a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) removed. All of this has been done onsite at the Skin Health Institute, which has been fantastic – sort of a one stop shop for my skin.

The skill of the work performed at the Skin Health Institute amazes me. I still have no idea how the registrars and dermatologists are able to differentiate my good spots from bad spots because I have so many – this is often remarked upon by people who look at spots all day! The skill of the plastic surgeons also astounds me. I had a spot removed from just under my eye and I cannot even see the scar – it is amazing.

I feel that the Skin Health Institute provides me with the best care that I can get because everything is done in-house. The nurses, registrars, dermatologists and plastic surgeons all work as a team, so you are not repeating your story each time; they know who you are beforehand.

Over the years I realised how lucky I had been. If Professor Marks hadn’t picked up the melanoma and acted so quickly, my outcome would have been much graver. Quite literally, the Skin Health Institute saved my life.

19 November 2019
Category: Patient Stories
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