Sonya Chant has always prioritized her and her family’s health, including regular skin checks.
“I had a spot on my lip five years ago and the biopsy came back on skin cancer with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which is different from melanoma,” Sonya, 36, tells 9Honey.
Cancer Council Australia explains that BCCs are the most common form of skin cancer, but are usually not life-threatening. The melanoma is the most sinister.
Sonya and her husband Luke, 38, and children Angus, seven, and Milla, five, live in the small rural NSW town of Dungog, and constant sun exposure means they need to keep abreast of any skin changes.
Sonya and her husband Luke, 38, and children Angus, seven, and Milla, five. (Supplied)
As a teenager, Sonya had gone to the beach to tan when the dangers of skin cancer were not fully understood.
That BCC had appeared as a “little white dot” between Sonya’s nose and lip, and after it was removed, Sonya stepped up her skin checks.
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In December 2020, Sonya found a spot on the back of her arm.
“I saw a black scaly spot that was only quite small,” she recalls. “I booked a skin check and my girlfriend, who is a nurse, came over and said, ‘Oh, I don’t like that.’ ”
Five years later, Sonya found herself fighting a more deadly form of the disease. (Supplied)
The spot has been removed and sent away for testing. Sonya got the results the day before Christmas Eve. She had melanoma, and there was not enough “clearance,” so doctors would have to remove more skin from the area.
“I went back that afternoon and they had to reopen the stitches from the week before and remove a large amount of tissue to get the approval,” she recalls.
“I had to wait until January 4th to get the results because of the holiday and they said they had clear margins and it hadn’t spread.”
It was then diagnosed as stage 2 melanoma, with stage 1 on top of the skin and stage 2 starting to spread into the skin. Stage 3 invades the lymph nodes and stage 4 can invade anything.
“It was so scary not to know the results during the holidays.” (Supplied)
“It was so scary not knowing the results over the holidays,” she says.
I looked at my family and my children and prayed that everything was okay. It was just the unknown. ‘
She left a “pretty big mark” and talked to her kids about it and the importance of sun safety.
“I saw a black scaly spot that was very small.”
“My kids are booked for a check-up at the end of this month and I have skin check-ups every week which will eventually be every three months for the next two years.”
Luke goes with their kids for a skin check-up at their local skin cancer clinic.
She has now booked her husband and children for skin cancer checkups. (Supplied)
“It’s hot where I live, hot and dry, and I want people to make sure their skin is checked. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. It’ll take five minutes. Just go. for real. “
Sonya couldn’t help but think Christmas would have been her last had she not caught her melanoma early.
“Just go with the family and do it,” she says.
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