Joanne and her trusty companion Frankie spend their days spreading a message of hope in hospitals, nursing homes, even prisons. It is a long way from her darkest hour facing palliative care.
Joanne’s melanoma journey began six years ago when she had a mole removed from her thigh. Four years later the cancer retuned in her groin, and she was told she had Stage III melanoma. Despite a second round of surgery, it quickly progressed to Stage IV.
“I have to confess I’m of that generation that did not put any cream on at all, it just didn’t happen,” Joanne recalls. “The only cream I put on was coconut oil, or baby oil. Now that’s probably where that melanoma started a long time ago.”
Joanne vividly remembers the discussion with her oncologist who suggested she get in touch with the palliative care unit. It is a memory she will never shake.
“Palliative care means you’re dying,” Joanne says. “It is a dreadful, dreadful disease.”
Joanne was thrown a lifeline when her oncologist at Melanoma Institute Australia suggested she try what was at the time a new treatment for melanoma. After an extended period of being very unwell, she turned the corner, and now, none of her tumours are measurable.
“Thank goodness I went to the right place at the right time, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” Joanne says. “If I had presented five years ago with what I had, then there is no way I would have survived. It is only through the research done at Melanoma Institute Australia that I am sitting here today.”
Joanne and Frankie, her therapy dog, now devote their time spreading a message of hope to others.
“We’ll go anywhere won’t we Frankie, to say there is life, there is hope. The Melanoma Institute has been there for me 24/7 and I have depended on them and I will be eternally grateful for the rest of my life.
Joanne’s is the latest in a series of emotive videos launched by Melanoma Institute Australia, showing the impact of melanoma on everyday Australians.
Watch her story below and join her in the fight against melanoma by signing up for a Melanoma March event near you.