Raph’s Story

Tess McGowan-Chan was just 30 years old and five months pregnant with her first child when she received a diagnosis no expecting parent would ever want to hear.

Celebrating her first wedding anniversary and excited to welcome her first child into the world, Tess didn’t think anything of a mole her husband Victor noticed on her back. Insisting she get it checked out, Tess went to the doctor where the mole was removed and sent for testing.

The following week, Tess was diagnosed with melanoma and given less than 12 months to live.

Welcoming their healthy daughter, Mabel, to the world in 2011, Tess and Victor’s high spirits wavered as it was revealed the cancer had spread throughout Tess’ body.

While savouring the joys of being a new parent, Tess was enduring treatment over four months and at the same time battling the juggle of needing to rest and enjoying time with Mabel. One of seven siblings, Tess’ family made sure she was never alone, ensuring someone was always with her, whether she was undergoing treatment or just at home.

Sadly, Tess passed away in 2012 but has never been forgotten. Her brother Raphael McGowan started a fundraising page for Melanoma Institute Australia in her memory to learn more about the insidious disease and share his newfound knowledge with others. This led him to develop bakslap, a device designed to help apply sunscreen and lotion to the tricky places to reach on our bodies.

Raphael has raised more than $80,000 for melanoma research over the years, hosting cycling events and fundraisers, and now he is bringing the Melanoma March to the Sunshine Coast.

“Tess is with me everyday and that’s driving me to do what I can to find a cure, so when Mabel and other kids grow up, their generation is free from melanoma.”

Tess’ family will be marching in this year’s Melanoma March to raise awareness and vital funds for melanoma research. Take steps to end melanoma and join the March for a cure.

Register now