Gaylene Bayfield

MPA Patient Story - Gaylene Bayfield smiling at the camera

Tell us a little about yourself

Hi, my name is Gaylene, I am a 60’s vintage, old girl, a wife and carer of my husband, mother to 3 beautiful daughters and Ma Ma to 5 granddaughters and 1 grandson.

When and how did you first find out you had melanoma?

We were travelling through the NT in August 2019 when I put my arm on the windowsill of our motorhome and I felt like I burnt my arm. Found a pink dot, size of a match head, that looked like a pimple. Got back to QLD and in December noticed it was growing. Saw my GP, who was not overly concerned and as we were heading to Brisbane, she advised that when I got a chance get a local doctor to remove it. What with Christmas etc, finally got an appointment early Jan with an excision 4 days later and 2 days after that, advised it was a Nodular Melanoma. This was a surprise as I had had a full skin check in May 2019 prior to leaving on our trip.

Tell us about your treatment

The GP in Brisbane was amazing, referring me immediately to the RWBH and I met the plastic surgeon who planned a wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy 4 days later. It was day surgery and I was home that night.  Due to the position just above my left elbow, my arm was braced, to prevent it bending. I kept running into things, which was funny not so funny at the same time! As evidence of cancer was found in my lymph nodes, I was referred to a medical oncologist and began a 12-month (every 28 days) course of adjuvant nivolumab.

What challenges did you and your family and/or friends face after your diagnosis?

This all happened during the beginning of Covid, our home was rented out, we could not travel in our little motor home and I could not wash myself, prepare meals and most other things we take for granted. It was a blessing that I had 3 daughters in Brisbane who cared for me and provided us somewhere to live.  One of the advantages was that with reduced cars on the road, we could get into the hospital in under an hour. Glass half full.

Tell us about your involvement with MPA

By chance, I put Melanoma in my search bar and found the MPA Facebook page. It was so reassuring to read inspiring and real stories and to be able to ask questions in a safe environment. Those nights when you can’t sleep, and you are pondering your future, hoping you have one, I would open the group and feel there was hope and a good chance that I can beat this.

How has melanoma cancer affected your outlook on life?

Since my teens, when the damage was caused, I have been sun smart, I now am even more so. I have been to some dark places, in the last 14 months and have sought help to get through it. I have asked myself, “Why me”, have I not been through enough with my husband’s cancer diagnosis and now his dementia. There is a reason and so now I hope to make people aware and remind my friends and family of the importance of regular skin checks.

Do you have a motto or personal mantra?

I have always been a “Go get it” person, now I am even more determined to enjoy every day, spend more time with family and friends

I’m happiest when…

I am with those I love.

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