I’m Drew, I’m a 42-year-old husband and proud father of two daughters. Before receiving my diagnosis, I had a passion for photography – something I’m working to do again – and enjoyed brewing my own beer. I loved moments spent with my family in the great outdoors, whether it was going on hikes, teaching my girls how to fish, or escaping to the beach. With continued improvement in my condition, I’m looking forward to getting back out there with my family and creating new memories.
What challenges did you and your family/friends face after your diagnosis?
It was an incredibly trying time between my initial hospital admission and finally receiving an official diagnosis almost a month later. The long wait, the excruciating pain, and the unknown future for both myself and my family were an enormous burden to bear. Even after the diagnosis of melanoma was confirmed, we had to endure another two weeks of uncertainty before being able to discuss the stage of the cancer and potential treatment options with an appropriate medical professional. During this time, we were left to rely on Google for information and struggled to find the right person to speak to. It was a challenging and overwhelming experience.
How has melanoma cancer affected your outlook on life?
When I was first diagnosed with melanoma cancer, I felt hopeless and didn’t see much of an outlook on life for myself. However, as I began treatment and started to see positive results, my outlook shifted. I no longer take my health for granted and celebrate the smallest of wins. My family and I are making plans for the future, including holidays and experiences that we can enjoy together. I’ve also developed new interests and hobbies, and I’m passionate about advocating for melanoma prevention, early detection and patient and family wellbeing. This experience has taught me to appreciate life’s precious moments and to prioritise the things that really matter.
How has Melanoma Patients Australia helped with your journey?
MPA has connected me with others who are also going through similar experiences as myself. I am a member of the closed Facebook group and regularly attend in-person support group meetings within my local area. Especially during the early stages of my melanoma journey, interacting with others and hearing their personal accounts provided me with a valuable sense of context. The ability to communicate openly without the worry of being judged has been an immense source of comfort and support. Simply having another person going through something similar, acknowledge and empathise with my struggles has made a significant difference in an already challenging situation.
Best advice for people newly diagnosed?
Stay away from Google! Prioritise self-care. Remember to breathe, take things one day at a time, and seek support when you need it. Just remember that “It is what is” and you’re doing all that you can to get yourself to where you need to be.
I’m happiest when…
I am able to enjoy quality time with my daughters and family, and when I remember that I’m feeling better now – both mentally and physically – than I did six months ago.