Newcastle’s Jacqueline Evans and Joe Hamilton both lost their dads to melanoma in the same year.
Their fathers even shared the same doctor.
But they didn’t cross paths until they participated in a leg of Sydney man Jay Allen’s Longest Melanoma March walk in 2017.
Mr Allen was walking from Brisbane to Sydney and the duo kept him company for 15km from Newcastle to Gateshead.
The pair got to hear each other’s stories. Hearing Mr Allen’s too, they were inspired by his devotion to fundraising for the disease.
It’s why they became involved with organising Sunday’s Newcastle Melanoma March – a 4km walk from Nobbys beach carpark along the foreshore which aims to raise funds for research into finding a cure.
“So far we’ve got nearly 200 people who have registered,” Ms Evans said. “There’s still a couple of days to go and we’re hoping to get a few more who register or turn up on the day.”
Melanoma has hit Ms Evans’ family hard. She lost her dad in 2016, aged 65.
“My dad’s younger sister was only 39 when she died of melanoma, that was 18 years ago. A month before my dad was diagnosed, his older sister was also diagnosed and she is still continuing with her treatment. My older brother has also had it on his cheek and currently gets three-monthly checks.”
Educating about sun-safe habits has become a passion for primary school teacher Joe Hamilton, who lost his dad at age 56.
“Before I lost my father it was easy for me to do the same [forget about those habits],” he said. “But going through this makes it real and tangible. You don’t want to see other kids go through that in later life.
“It’s a real thing and kills a lot of younger people.”
Funds raised from the 21 marches across Australia will be put towards the Big Data for Melanoma Project.
The project is creating a critical register to record the treatment and outcomes of patients with melanoma, wherever they are in Australia.
Around 14,000 Australians will be told they have melanoma this year.
The disease continues to be the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39-year-old people and kills more young Australians aged 20-39 than any other cancer.
To register for the Newcastle walk click here.