Unfortunately, men are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than women, with one in two men diagnosed at some point in their lifetime. Bowel cancer, melanoma and lung cancer are three of the most common cancers in Australia, however, men are considerably more likely to be diagnosed and die from these cancers.
Men’s Health Week is June 13 – 19 2022
For Men’s Health Week, Matt Kean, an Aussie living with stage four melanoma, shares his personal experience. Kean is a husband and father of two and is spending what may be his final years traveling around Australia, raising awareness of melanoma and what can be done to prevent others going through what he has.
Here’s Matt’s Story:
“We have begun a journey that has changed our lives forever. It’s a journey that I share with others in the hope that they don’t have to experience it themselves”.
I was out in the garden all day with a friend, and I looked down and saw a lump. At the time I thought I’d been bitten – being a man I looked at it and thought ‘I’ll be right’.
What I thought was a bite didn’t get better, so I went to the doctor and within a few days I had a lump removed from my right thigh and subsequently had the lymph nodes in my groin removed; I thought it was going to be cut out and I’d be fine.
Five days after this operation I was called in to see the surgeon and receive the news that we really didn’t want to hear, this became incredibly real – Stage three melanoma.
It’s hard to describe how we felt, when I was first told about immunotherapy the doctor said, ‘we should get eight to 10 years out of you’. I was just approaching my 40th birthday and I never expected to be told that I probably wouldn’t make it to 50. Had this kind of treatment not been around at the time, I probably wouldn’t have made it another year.
I was now a patient at Peter Mac in Melbourne and travelled down for three monthly scans. In November of that year in a routine scan, the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes inside my pelvis, becoming Stage Four.
I have a 14-year-old daughter, Ava who has ridden every bump. She overthinks it, and I know it’s hard on her – what can you tell a child of that age? When I found out the cancer had spread, and was now classed as stage four, we felt it was time she finally knew what the prognosis was.
We sat Ava down to explain. With a tear running down her eye she said to me ‘we might only have five years left together Dad.’ My youngest daughter was little and didn’t understand, but Ava knew exactly what this meant – losing her Dad. The hardest thing of all of this is the damage it has done to my wife and kids, it’s heartbreaking knowing how tough it is on them.
At the end of the day, this may well get me but if each talk I do, or each conversation I have, will have an impact on someone and prevent them from going through what I have, then I’ve made the most of my time. It wouldn’t be a waste.
We know that cancer stories can raise concerns for some people, and we want to make sure they are able to get the help they need.