Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Mole check a lifesaver

Wife's fear sends melanoma sufferer to GP

Daniel Grobler, who has had multiple surgeries for melanoma. Photo / Jason Dorday
Daniel Grobler, who has had multiple surgeries for melanoma. Photo / Jason Dorday

Daniel Grobler noticed a mole the size of a dollar coin on his chest but didn't pay it much attention.

When his wife, Elsie, became concerned it was growing, he visited his GP.

During the three months of summer it is likely, based on annual trends, that about 80 people will die of melanoma in New Zealand and 550 will be diagnosed with it.

The Cancer Society estimates that non-melanoma skin cancers are also found in 67,000 people each year and cause 100 deaths.

The Auckland dad-of-two was shocked in October last year to learn his growth likely was a melanoma.

"Skin cancer had never even crossed my mind," Grobler said. "Then I was kicking myself for not having it treated sooner. I would hardly describe myself as a sun-worshipper so I was stunned."

First stop was a pharmacy MoleMap, which confirmed melanoma.

The first attempt to remove the mole, in February this year, left the wound infected. He then had surgery at Auckland Hospital.

"I had a fairly large chunk cut out of my chest, in case the cancer had spread," Grobler, from Mt Wellington, explained. "Fortunately, we got it in time, otherwise I was looking at chemotherapy. It was very stressful for my family and it took a while for the severity of it to kick in. Emotionally, it was horrendous for all of us."

MoleMap dermatologist Dr Mark Gray said the cancer could rapidly spread once a mole became malignant, making it extremely hard to remove effectively.

Grobler was given the all-clear in April. He urged anyone who notices an unusual mole to seek treatment straight away.

"I would ask anyone not to wait like I did."


What to look for

• Unusual sores, lumps, blemishes, markings or changes in the the skin.

• The first sign of a melanoma is often a change in an existing mole or freckle, or the appearance of a new mole or freckle. Consult a doctor.

• The most common site in men is on the back and for women is on the legs.

- Herald on Sunday

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