what causes skin cancer

John Shields

Skin Cancer Survivor

My hero is the doctor who acted so quickly to save my life 37 years ago.

I went to a doctor to have an itchy rash on my face looked at. He asked if I was itchy anywhere else and I pointed out a mole behind my ear, hidden in my hair. He took one look at it, asked me to wait and left the room. When he came back in, he said "I have made an appointment with a specialist to have that looked at. Can you go right now?"

I drove straight to the specialist who saw me immediately, even though he had a room full of patients waiting. The same thing happened again: he left the room, came back in and said, "I have scheduled some time tomorrow in an operating theatre. Can you check into hospital this afternoon?"

I knew nothing at the the time about melanoma. He explained a little bit and said it was important to get onto it straight away. I still had no idea of the severity or significance of the situation. I spent five hours on the operating table while they removed a melanoma under my skin that was the size of the palm of my hand. The only indicator had been an itchy mole on the surface.

The surgeon stated afterwards that I shouldn't be here today and that if my melanoma had gone undiagnosed for another month or two, it would have been inoperable. So my hero is that doctor who acted so quickly.