Having not had a skin check in more than a decade, former professional surfer Matt Hoy paid a visit to the Hunter Melanoma Foundation (HMF) Spot Check clinic – and is thankful he did.
Before his skin check, the popular Novocastrian did not have any specific spots that he was concerned about.
“From a young age I have always been vigilant about protecting my skin from the sun,” he said.
“I wear a wetsuit when out in the surf and am constantly applying sunscreen, so I wasn’t overly worried before my skin check.”
During Matt’s skin check a local doctor from Newcastle Skin Check found two spots on his back that required further examining.
With the back being the most common place for melanoma to appear on a male, he took no time in booking a follow up appointment.
“The skin check part was easy however, I did feel pretty anxious after they asked me to follow up as soon as possible to get two spots on my back furthered examined,” Matt said.
After the two spots were removed, he received the relieving news that they weren’t melanomas.
“I regret putting my skin check off for so long,” Matt said.
“And, even though my results turned out to be okay, it certainly was a wakeup call to get my skin checked regularly.”
Over the 2020/21 summer season the HMF staged its ‘Spot check’ campaign, an initiative that provided the general public and the surf lifesaving community with free skin checks.
Through the help of local doctors from Newcastle Skin Check, 723 people received a free skin check.
Thirty-six of these skin checks were suspected melanomas and from those, eight were confirmed melanomas.
HMF’s executive officer Claudia Tolhurst said the Spot Check campaign provided the community with more than a free skin check, it encouraged people to change their sun smart behaviours and take getting their skin checked seriously.
“Early intervention of melanoma is so important,” she explained.
“Yet, people put off getting their skin checked.
“By bringing this service to the community we were able to provide more than 700 people with free skin checks, some of which were life-saving.”
Anthea Burke was one of these life-saving skin checks.
After previously putting off a skin check, she went down the HMF Spot Check clinic and after further testing was told she had a melanoma.
“When I was told the spot on the back of my arm was a melanoma and that it had gone into one of my lymph nodes, I was pretty scared,” Anthea said.
“It really highlights how important it is to not take your body for granted and get your skin checked regularly.”
Both Matt and Anthea are thankful that a local charity provided such a vital service to the community.
“Initiatives like Spot Check make a real change in our community,” the ex-sporting champion said.
“That’s why it is important for our local community to support charities like the Hunter Melanoma Foundation to continue the wonderful work they do.”
The ‘Spot Check’ campaign was made possible through the support of Newcastle Skin Check, and grants from Novartis, Club Grants (West’s Group) and Nova Alliance Bank.