A man who lost a huge chunk of his neck and back in surgical procedures to rid him of melanoma has warned others about the dangers of seemingly innocent sun spots.
Concern for a mole on the back of Perth man Ryan Glossop’s neck was first raised in November last year, but two surgeries later, he was yet to be given the all clear.
The 37-year-old underwent a third surgery in January this year to remove scarring from earlier procedures as well as a broader margin around the target area, but again he was delivered an unsettling result.
It turned out the health and safety adviser had a skin condition called Nevus Spillus which in his case, had transitioned into melanoma and continued to cause areas tested surrounding the cancerous skin to come back abnormal.
In a fourth surgery in May, a larger area of skin had to be removed, with sizeable skin grafts being taken from both his legs to replace the skin that was taken away.
A whopping 8cm wide and 40cm long chunk of skin was removed from the back of both Mr Glossop’s legs to cover the patch on the back of his neck.
Mr Glossop said his brush with cancer was “quite scary”, particularly given that he has two young children; a four-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son with his wife, Fallon.
“Going through that was scary at first, but then once they said ‘if we can get this skin graft done, we think you’ll be in the clear’, it was more dealing with the fact I’d have fairly significant scars,” Mr Glossop told Yahoo News Australia.
The difficulty or removing melanoma
The keen basketball player said he’d been confronted with a general misconception towards melanoma treatment, and hoped that through sharing his experience, public perception could be shifted.
“It’s a common perception that melanoma, although can be deadly, can be removed pretty easily and there’s only a small scar,” he said.
He added that graphic photos of his neck following his final surgery shared to social media had opened many people’s eyes to how widespread the lasting physical implications of melanoma can be.
“The surgeon said we can work towards making it look a little bit better cosmetically, but there’s always going to be a scar.”
He said despite his mum having a melanoma removed when she was younger, he never thought he was particularly at risk of one himself, given he “wasn’t really a freckly person growing up”.
“Over the last few years it’s started to change, I got more spots and more freckles, but it wasn’t until I went into the mining industry for work that the concept of skin checks was thrown around quite a lot,” he said.
Having not had a check for a while, he finally had one last year off his “own steam”, which was fortunate, because it could have saved his life.
“It’s been life-changing as you’d expect.”
His children are now undergoing screening to assess the risk of them being affected by skin cancer in the future.
Body mapping to detect skin cancer
Mr Glossop encouraged others to not only pay close attention to skin safety advice as summer approaches, but to also seek specialist care if they are suspicious of new moles or freckles.
He said a body mapping technique was the most effective way of measuring abnormal growths, and gave medical professionals the best insight into potentially cancerous blemishes.
Now that he is cancer free, Mr Glossop’s focus has turned to getting his physical well-being back in check, with him hopeful his story would help motivate people to be more sun smart and to seek out the right help if an issue arose.
He and his wife have spearheaded their own fundraiser for the WA Melanoma Cancer Support Association.
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