After finding small blood spots on his pillowcase, Luke thought he’d simply scratched his head with a clipper.
At only 21 years of age, the GP told him “you’re too young for anything negative or important, just don’t worry about it”.
A week later, he came back to the GP and was told it was stage 2 melanoma.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis at 21 years old
In 2021, there was a lot going on in Luke’s life – his dad had just moved interstate, COVID-19 was around, he was looking for a new job, trying to balance his university studies, and then on top of that, he received a cancer diagnosis.
It went from “what was a mole, not even the size of the pinky nail, to a 10cm diameter excision on the back of my head, all within a month”, he describes.
He adds “it hit me pretty hard, but it’s like one of those things where when something bad in your life happens it makes you reconsider everything else, what is important and what isn’t”.
After the surgery, Luke commenced an immunotherapy trial and was the youngest person at the time to go through this treatment. He remembers reading the potential risks associated with the treatment and having to consider things that most 21-year-olds wouldn’t think about.
“[The immunotherapy] affected everyone differently and I went through the list of potential one in a million sort of things, that you don’t really think about that when you’re 21”, he says.
Making sun safety a must
As a primary school teacher, Luke is now educating his students, friends and family on the importance of being SunSmart.
When it comes to sports outside, he says “if students are not wearing a hat, then they are in the shade at all times, and everyone is covering themselves in sunscreen, even if that takes up 10 minutes of the lesson.”
He believes teachers are now more aware about sun safety than when he grew up.
“When I was a kid, I don’t remember my sports teacher bringing out sunscreen and worrying that much about wearing a hat. But now I’m definitely very strict on it,” he says.
When talking about the school’s sports carnival, he shares how “we were undercover as much as possible, and making sure kids brought their hats.”
However, he also sees there are more cross-curricular opportunities to incorporate sun safety into the school day.
My story, it’s pretty uncommon, but it’s not something that’s unrealistic. It can happen to a lot of kids. So, at school, you want to try to engage students in things that are practical to real life, and this is a real-life issue that you can have.
Luke is now on the road to recovery. He will continue to have regular checks for the next three years until he is in the clear.
Thank you to Luke for sharing his incredible story and encouraging our next generation to be SunSmart.
For more information
- Stay SunSmart this summer by visiting the SunSmart webpage.
- Find your local UV levels at: