Nicole’s journey began in 2021 when she was diagnosed with advanced melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer.
Her case presented a unique challenge – there was no primary site identified, making it an unknown origin. Despite the uncertainty, Nicole remained hopeful, attributing her optimism to the possibility that her body had already fought off the primary cancer.
Following her diagnosis, Nicole underwent a series of treatments, including the removal of the tumour, immunotherapy, and a personalised vaccine clinical trial. Thankfully, these treatments were successful, and Nicole has now remained cancer free for over two years.
The emotional impact of receiving a cancer diagnosis
Nicole shares the profound emotional impact that a cancer diagnosis had on her mental health.
“It was a massive shock and fear of death, so that created anxiety and stress”, she says.
Despite her fears, Nicole found solace in her family and tried to continue with her usual daily life to avoid worrying about what was going to happen.
“I tried to find ways to manage and deal with that. I think still having a family and carrying on with daily life was critical,” she says.
She now feels strong enough to talk about her experience publicly and hopes that by sharing her story and advocating for change she can make a difference in the lives of others.
A life-saving clinical trial
When Nicole’s tumour was removed and identified as melanoma, her plastic surgeon connected her with an oncologist who was running a clinical trial. Nicole met all the criteria for the trial and was offered the last place.
Despite the potential risks and side effects associated with new drugs, Nicole bravely decided to participate. She shares that the trial she took part in has had encouraging results, so there’s hope that it could drastically change the outcomes of melanoma and be used for other cancers as well.
Advocating for change in her community
As a mother of two, Nicole’s primary goal is to ensure that her children do not develop melanoma.
Nicole’s journey has already led to significant changes. Her advocacy work has made a difference in her children’s lives and their school community. She has influenced behaviours and raised awareness about skin cancer prevention.
However, while primary schools are making progress, Nicole says, “I feel like the one thing I would change is high school’s perception of sun protection”.
She sees this as a massive opportunity, but also a challenge to change the perception of sun protection and integrate it into student’s daily routines and social norms.
A SunSmart message
Nicole’s message is a simple yet powerful one: “be aware of the damage caused by UV rays and get your skin checked regularly”.
When asked about her sun protection behaviours when she was younger, Nicole says she was quite conscientious once she was old enough to understand the risks. However, she feels that more could have been done during her younger years, particularly in terms of wearing protective clothing.
As the development of skin cancer can be a complex interplay of genetics and the environment, Nicole advocates for both protective measures and regular checks to be safe.
Nicole’s story is a testament to her resilience and determination. Despite the challenges she faced, she continues to advocate for skin cancer prevention, making a difference one small step at a time.
For more information
- Stay SunSmart this summer by visiting the SunSmart webpage.
- Find your local UV levels at: