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Wiser & Well

Team Total Total Raised

$16,704 of AUD $25,000 team's target.

Raised by 0 people in days for Melanoma Institute Australia (Melanoma March)

Biggest Supporters

AUD $5000.00

David and Vicki Albert

AUD $500.00

Peter Reid

Wiser & Well


Hi everyone! We've created "Team Wiser & Well" to make a difference in this years Melanoma March by fundraising for Melanoma Institute Australia. You can support us by clicking Donate and making a secure online donation. 

In 2013, I was diagnosed with an aggressive melanoma on my back. Within a week, I was rushed into surgery and it was removed. Phew, I thought, that was a bit scary but all done and dusted! After that, I was monitored carefully by the very thorough Associate Professor Robyn Saw and on a routine chest X-Ray, some 4 years later, a small spot had appeared in my right lung. Robyn said it could be anything, a virus (I hadn't been sick) or some dirt lodged in my lung. So we left it and booked in a closer look via CT in 3 months time. 

The CT revealed that the spot had become larger and now there was a little friend next to it. By this stage I was still hoping for the best but expecting the worst. So I was sent for a PET scan (which is basically a cancer scan) to check other parts of my body and that's when they found more spots on my right kidney. For the next 9 months I was PET scanned every 3 months as the all the spots were so small that they weren't sure they could get a clear result from a biopsy one way or the other. So it was a 'watchful waiting' approach. It was tough. All the waiting. No nails left on my fingers and a black cloud following me every day. Is it or isn't it??

By the end of the 9 months, the first spot they found had become big enough to do a lung biopsy and the radiographer thought he could get a decent sample now. in I went and had the longest needle in the world pushed into my chest.  It resulted in a definite diagnosis. Melanoma. I swore and cried and got angry and sad and tried not to think the worst that it was taking over my body and my vital organs. 

From there I was sent to see another incredible human being by the name of Professor Georgina Long. Georgina explained everything to me. What my options were. That there were options. That my new diagnosis was stage IV cancer. I didn't even know what stage IV was! This stage means that the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. It may also be called advanced or metastatic cancer. Even though the ones on my kidney had not been biopsied, Georgina said, "if it walks like a duck, and it looks like a duck, it probably is....." And it was. It was biopsied after 9 months of a clinical trial did not have the results we hoped. 

On the trial I met some amazing people. People caring for loved ones with cancer, pathologists, radiographers, doctors, nurses, volunteers, patients and loads more. The clinical trial I was on saw some people see massive reductions in tumours. But for some reason, it just didn't work on me. It was very disheartening. But Georgina came to me with another plan, "Let's go in and take them out". They were in organs that we could do that and in positions that made it easier to do. So we did. In March I had half my kidney removed in a 6 hour long surgery that was performed by Dr Scott Leslie via a robot that had six arms that went on and got those tumours out! It was performed at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, a specialist cancer hospital. I had a few issues but afterwards I was on the mend and ready for the next surgery.

By May, I was well enough to have Dr Manu Mathur, Cardiothoracic surgeon, take out the top part of my lung. I was expecting to sound like Darth Vader but of course the wonders of modern medicine allowed me to get up and move after a few hours in the ICU. I had some advise from a wise lady who told me whatever you do, just get up and walk as soon as you can!! Thanks Dr Briony Scott. Her words gave me the inspiration to not lie there feeling sorry for myself. It worked too. My recovery was a lot quicker than we all thought.

Since then, I have been on a slow but steady trajectory out of pain and back to feeling like myself (almost). As anyone knows who has gone though cancer, you really are never quite the same as you were. When you have your children ask you, "Are you going to die Mummy?" and feel that gut wrenching emotion well up inside of you, it is a defining moment in your life. 

My only hope is that by telling my story, that it will help Melanoma Institute to get the funds they need to keep doing the research that will save lives. It's really our only hope. For me, the chances of melanoma returning are high. If the surgeries I have had give me another 5+ years (or longer!!!), by that time, there may well be even further options available that will have the results so desperately needed. 

For the time being, I am truly "Wiser & Well" and doing everything to stay that way. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and my family as we have gone through this all together. 

But now, we March! Please join me and my family on March 22 to raise awareness and funds for the Melanoma Institute of Australia. And please, if you haven't already, go get a skin check! 

Looking forward to seeing you all!

Jen xo

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    Melanoma Institute Australia (Melanoma March)

    Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the goal of zero deaths from melanoma, a goal we aim to achieve through innovative, world-class research, treatment and education programs.

    It is expected that there will be over 15,000 melanoma diagnoses in Australia in 2019. Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian men and women, and the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39-year-olds. In 2019, it is predicted that there will be over 1,700 deaths from melanoma - that is one Australian every five hours.

    Recent advances in treatment pioneered by MIA clinicians and researchers have tripled the life expectancy for advanced melanoma patients.

    When you support a friend, family member, or colleague who is fundraising on our behalf, you're taking steps to beat this killer disease.

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    Created by

    Jennifer Benfield

    for Melanoma Institute Australia (Melanoma March)

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