Yass locals Kim Barton and her brother Richard Ryan will take part in day 29 of the Longest Melanoma March to not only help raise funds and awareness for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), but to also remember their father, Tony Ryan, who lost his life to melanoma at just 61 years of age in 2012.
The campaign began on March 5 in Brisbane and will finish on April 2 in Sydney. For Kim and Richard, they will join the crew during the Mungo Bush to Hawks Nest route, north of Newcastle.
We all want it [melanoma] to be kicked in the butt.Kim Barton
Kim said the initiative is close to her and her brother’s hearts
“My brother and I, we’re doing our bit for dad – to simply raise more awareness of melanoma. Dad would want that and for others to know about getting treated early to avoid the suffering,” she said.
“We all want it to be kicked in the butt. If you have the slightest abnormality on your skin, get it checked early – it doesn’t hurt to do so.”
She said her father, who helped build Rollonin Cafe in Bowning, may have survived if circumstances were different.
“If dad did that [getting checked early], it might have changed the situation today,” Kim said.
Kim and Richard’s leg of the march forms part of MIA community coordinator Jay Allen’s overall Brisbane to Sydney trek.
Jay was only 32 when he was diagnosed with the condition.
“I just never thought it would happen to me,” he said. “I had a mole on my ankle that looked unusual and kept rubbing on my work boots and bleeding. My wife persisted that I get it checked, and luckily I took her advice. It turned out to be a melanoma, which was 1.95mm deep and had spread to my lymph nodes.”
Jay underwent immediate surgery and treatment. Eight years on he is fighting fit — and is now fighting to help raise awareness and find a cure for melanoma, which is the number one cancer killer of Australians aged 20–39.
As for Kim, asked about who will cheer her and Richard at the finish line, she said most family members will be there to celebrate their 25 km journey, which should take about five hours.
For more about the campaign: www.facebook.com/LongestMelanomaMarch