Marching to raise melanoma awareness

THEY are being pounded by almost constant rain but nothing can stop Jay Allen and the team behind The Longest Melanoma March. 

Jay is more than halfway through the Longest Melanoma March, where he and his team are walking 1200km from Brisbane to Sydney over 29 days, aiming to raise $250,000.

On Monday he made his way through Nabiac before going to Bulahdelah. 

The march is intentionally going through small towns to meet and greet everyday people to raise money and awareness of the work of the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA).

Jay is a community co-ordinator with the MIA and he like the rest of the team has his own melanoma story to share. 

Jay Allen was 32 when he was diagnosed with melanoma. Overnight he went from being a truck driver to a cancer patient.

“I just never thought it would happen to me,” Jay said.

“I had a mole on my ankle that looked unusual and kept rubbing on my work boots and bleeding. My wife persisted that I get it checked, and luckily I took her advice. It turned out to be a melanoma which was 1.95mm deep and had spread to my lymph nodes.”

Jay underwent immediate surgery and treatment. Eight years on he is fighting fit — and is now fighting for another cause - to help raise awareness and find a cure for melanoma which is the number one cancer killer of Australians aged 20 to 39.

Jay said despite the weather conditions being “tough” it’s nothing compared to what those going through melanoma experience.

“The walk has been pretty crazy, but we get to have a break,” Jay said.

“Those going through stage four melanoma – they don’t get a break at all.”

Jay said his strength has come from the community. 

Along the Mid North Coast Jay was touched when a child donated their $5 in pocket money and when a man shared his heartbreaking story of losing his wife to melanoma only last week.

Team member Hayley Pearce, who lost her mum to melanoma in 2014, said hearing these stories brings home why they are so determined to do the march.

“Yes our legs get sore but walking is so easy compared to going through melanoma,” Hayley said.

“It’s killing a lot of people and we need awareness and funds to be raised to stop it.”