Cancer Council WA CEO, Ashley Reid, talks about cancer and statistics around the clock. He speaks about Western Australia and Queensland having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and how every day, 36 West Australians hear the words 'you have cancer'.
On 18 December 2021, he became one of those statistics.
It was late last year when Ashley noticed an unusual looking patch of skin on his right calf. He also noticed a mole which had been there for a while, and although it was small, was slowly changing in appearance.
He visited his GP who also agreed it looked a bit suspect, taking a biopsy to send for testing.
Just three days later, Ashley received the news that he had early-stage melanoma and would need urgent surgery.
Ashley said hearing the words ‘you have cancer' came as an enormous shock.
"Being told you have melanoma you start thinking - has it already spread, and can it get worse? It's natural to worry if it had spread and whether I was in for worse news," Ashley said.
Just before Christmas, Ashley underwent urgent surgery which involved an incision in his right calf down to the muscle which required 14 stitches. Ashley explained the days after surgery as long and tough. All the labs had shut down for Christmas break, so what is would usually be a happy time of the year was an extremely anxious time for Ashley and his family.
Ashley's scar after surgery
"While waiting for results, I reflected on how far cancer research has come since I was a kid. It's thanks to the incredible investment in cancer research from our supporters, I was able to hold hope of a positive outcome".
Exactly two weeks after Ashley's first GP appointment, he received a call to say they had removed all the margins and my cancer had not spread.
"I am one of the lucky ones. I have benefited from years of incredible cancer research investment, because for me, it was good news after my cancer diagnosis.
"Thankfully, my story only left a scar. This isn't always the case. In 2019, 1587 West Australians were diagnosed with melanoma and 214 people died from skin cancer.
Sadly, Ashley's colleague's husband, Gary, has not been so fortunate.
"Gary has allowed me to share his story with you, to show the critical part Cancer Council WA supporters have played in his cancer journey and for others like him.
"Gary was first diagnosed with melanoma in his thumb in 2019. After having half his thumb amputated and three lymph nodes removed, he received the news that it was too late - the melanoma had spread.
"Gary has been through it all. He has undertaken a number of treatments and surgeries over the past three years, hoping to be delivered some good news. But the melanoma continued to spread throughout his body. So many people would have been knocked down by what he has been through, but not Gary".
Today, Gary is taking part in a ground-breaking clinical trial for melanoma, funded by Cancer Council WA supporters.
Gary's Oncologist says this is his last course of treatment, after this, there is nothing left they can do.
Gary and his wife, Fiona
"The only way we can improve outcomes for people with cancer, is through research and clinical trials. All of Cancer Council WA's investment in local world-class research is donor funded," Ashley said.
Your donation can help local researchers turn laboratory discoveries into new and better treatments that can help save lives.
For more information
- Read about the research we are funding, how to support research and how to apply for a research grant.
- Did you know that at least a third of all cancers could be prevented by making changes to our lifestyle? Learn how you can reduce your risk.
- Make a tax deductible donation can help stop cancer.
- Learn more about how you can support Cancer Council WA.