How an Instagram account helped to save this young woman's life

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

A young NSW woman has revealed how following an Instagram page helped save her from a rare form of potentially-fatal skin cancer.

Jade Offord, who like your stereotypical Australian loves a day at the beach, developed an innocuous speck on her arm last year and initially didn’t take much notice of it.

“It was just a small freckle,” the 27-year-old from Wollongong told Yahoo News Australia.

Her relatively dismissive attitude quickly changed when her sister-in-law shared with her an Instagram page designated to raising awareness of melanoma – a type of skin cancer which often occurs around existing or new moles due to overexposure to the sun.

Jade Offord was oblivious that a small freckle on her arm (pictured) was potentially deadly. Source: Supplied
The small freckle on Ms Offord's arm. Source: Supplied

“It wasn’t until after I saw the Instagram I looked at my spots and really noticed how much darker that peculiar freckle had become,” she said.

The page, entitled Call Time on Melanoma, regularly shares advise on protecting your skin in the sun and how to ensure your detect melanoma at the earliest opportunity.

One of key pieces of advice is to get a check-up for your skin, something Ms Offord, like most other millennials, had previously heard but had not acted on.

Ms Offord, like your stereotypical Aussie, loves a day at the beach. Source: Supplied

Now concerned about her freckle she headed straight to her GP to get checked over.

While her doctor said there wasn’t anything to be concerned about, her “instinct” said otherwise.

She booked in to see a skin cancer specialist, who after observing the freckle in question, said drastic action was needed.

“He didn't like the look of my freckle so he took it out and sent it off for testing,” she explained.

Ms Offord inspects her scar following surgery. Source: Supplied

It turned out Ms Offord had atypical spitzoid – a rare form of skin cancer which can prove to be fatal.

Test results confirmed the spot was a melanoma which resulted in surgery at the Melanoma Institute.

She successfully had the cancer removed and despite being at a higher risk than others, is now melanoma free.

And while Ms Offord has been left with a shallow crevice in her arm following the procedure, she says it is a constant reminder of what could have been.

Ms Offord after surgery. Source: Supplied
Ms Offord has a small crevice in her arm as a result of the surgery. Source: Supplied

“Like all melanoma it would’ve just spread so it’s important to know your skin so if anything changes you can get it removed as soon as possible,” she said.

“I was lucky picking up my melanoma when I did.

She said she will be forever thankful to Call Time On Melanoma Instagram page “because that is what educated me and prompted me to be more mindful of my skin and get a check up.”

She now hopes her story will help educate other young Australians.

Protection from the sun vital

According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, New Zealand and Australia have the highest melanoma rates in the world.

It is the third most common cancer in Australia and while it only represents 2 per cent of all skin cancers, it causes 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.

In 2016, there were 1281 deaths due to melanoma in Australia.

Cancer Council’s main advice to prevent melanoma is to minimise sun exposure, especially in the middle of the day.

Sun protective clothing is a must as well as sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above.

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