A GROUP of Year 10 students at Crusoe College has been credited with saving a teacher’s life after detecting skin cancer.
The VCE Health and Human Development class had been researching health-related apps when they came across SkinVision.
The app enables users to perform skin checks by photographing spots and returning an indication of the associated risk of skin cancer.
A high-risk indication prompts advice from a dermatologist.
The students’ teacher, Carole Waterson, volunteered a spot for the students to scan – an unsuspecting mole on her shoulder.
She said she had thought it was simply a scar.
But the app indicated otherwise.
“It came back pretty much straight away as high-risk,” Mrs Waterson said.
The students said they suspected the app was faulty, given the results of its initial detection.
They tried to scan another spot – this time, one volunteered by a student – but the trial version of the app only allowed one free analysis.
Mrs Waterson said she received further information about the photographed spot within hours.
“The specialist recommended I go straight to the doctor and check it out,” she said.
At the insistence of her students, she followed up with local health professionals and was diagnosed but not one, but two melanomas – one on her shoulder, and the other on her calf.
Both spots were removed and sent away for further testing.
Mrs Waterson had a second incision in her calf, and further diagnostics in relation to the spot on her shoulder.
She underwent a lymph node biopsy on Wednesday – the same day of student graduation.
“The kids were with me the whole way,” Mrs Waterson said.
There was one instance where the students reminded Mrs Waterson of a doctor’s appointment, and another when they sent her messages of support.
‘We love you Warto, good luck Warto,’ the messages said.
“Hopefully it all ends up ok,” Mrs Waterson said.
The students said the moral of the story was that it was important to take the initiative and have regular skin checks.
“It reminds you how important it is to do that,” Alyssa Anderson, one of the students, said.
Mrs Waterson was aware of a few people who had booked skin checks since learning about the unexpected outcome of her health lesson.
Some of the students’ families have followed suit.
“Even in our small [school] community it’s made a big impact,” Mrs Waterson said.
She said the students’ decision to scan her shoulder was ‘a most fortuitous moment’.
“There were so many learning experiences along the way,” Mrs Waterson said.
She said being able to relate what the students learned in school to real-life was part of a teacher’s role.
Mrs Waterson said many of her students had expressed interest in pursuing careers in health.
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