'Melanoma Me' - Washington skin cancer survivor helps identify 49 undiagnosed melanoma cases with life-saving training
A skin cancer survivor who launched her own charity to support others in similar situations is on a mission to raise awareness of the symptoms of melanoma.
Kerry Rafferty, 42, from Washington, started the Melanoma Me Foundation in 2017, two years after being diagnosed with the disease, and the charity has since been supporting others diagnosed, providing training to identify symptoms and has helped identify 49 undiagnosed cases of melanoma.
Kerry was diagnosed in 2015 after visiting her GP due to a large, dark mole on her arm and the charity has since supported over 200 families going through the same thing.
As well as offering counselling and support, Melanoma Me has been providing training to those in the beauty and tattoos industry to help them recognise suspicious lesions on the skin, which has led to 49 potentially life saving identifications of melanoma that were previously undiagnosed.
Kerry said: “We began by providing a small counselling and support service for people affected by melanoma and skin cancer. In the early days there were just two counsellors, that has now expanded to a team of 10.
“Nobody can prepare you for the roller-coaster of emotions after diagnoses. We have worked with over 200 families over this time and have become a very close community.”
During her own diagnosis, Kerry found she felt alone and had no one to talk to and didn’t want others going through the same thing to feel the same way she did, so set up the Melanoma Me Foundation.
She added: “Melanoma is a cancer club no one wants to be part of, but once you are there, you are in it for life. Melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers you can have. If you have no personal experience of this then how can you understand what it is to live to with diagnoses like Melanoma?
Nobody seemed to really understand what the big fear was over melanoma.”
The charity has worked with over 100 North East organisations, facilitating drop in’s and workshops, ensuring enough is done to prevent the disease and also regularly visits schools to raise awareness of the disease.