Graeme Holland never suspected a line on his thumb was melanoma.
At first he was diagnosed with a fungal infection, but the cream did not work and within two months part of his thumb was amputated.
Three years on and as Mr Holland and his family are organising the first annual Melanoma March in Bendigo, to take place this Sunday.
It will be a chance to raise vital awareness and life-saving funds for melanoma research.
This year 14,000 Australians will be told they have melanoma, one of the highest rates in the world.
While recent melanoma breakthroughs have tripled life expectancy for some advanced melanoma patients, there is still much needed research that needs to be done in the search for a cure.
“When I was first diagnosed I thought I would only have 12 months to live, but when I was given so many options for treatment I realised that getting melanoma doesn’t mean the end,” Mr Holland said.
“Letting people know that there are things that can be done, and melanoma is something you can overcome, is the message I want to share at this year’s march,” Mr Holland said.
Mr Holland said that melanoma did not hold everyone, himself included, back from living a full life.
He still lead an active life, running in triathlons in Eaglehawk once a month.
Three years after his diagnosis, Mr Holland is continuing treatment for his now stage IV melanoma.
The journey has involved two clinical trials as well as two different drug offerings covered by PBS. He describes his melanoma journey as “always taking one step forward, and two steps back”.
“Something’s going to work for me eventually. I will continue to participate in clinical trials, and if it doesn’t work on me, what the researchers learn will hopefully lead to them developing a cure, and saving lives,” Mr Holland said.
There are challenging times ahead with radiation therapy soon to stop. But Mr Holland remains positive.
“It’s a good time to have melanoma, if there is one. Ten years ago there wasn’t anything like there is now days with treatments. You’ve just got to have hope, and just keep on moving to the next step,” he said.
The march begins at Lake Weeroona at 9am on Sunday. People are asked to gather at the car park on Napier Street nearest the train crossing.
For more information on how to register or donate click here.