- 3 years ago
15 March 2021
Not long after melanoma survivor Jay Allen received an Order of Australia on Australia Day for his incredible efforts to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer, the father of six was told he was facing a new battle.
Jay was diagnosed with a stage three squamous cell carcinoma in his throat in early February, and has since commenced a course of chemotherapy and radiation which his doctors say give him a 90 per cent chance of knocking out the new cancer.
Considered to be unrelated to the melanoma which Jay was first diagnosed with in 2008, the throat cancer is a huge blow to a man who has walked thousands of kilometres and become one of the most prominent spokespeople for melanoma in Australia, having trekked first from Adelaide to Sydney then Sydney to Melbourne.
His Facebook page, The Melanoma Man, has more than 38,000 followers, many of whom have tracked Jay’s long treks as he travels the roads of Australia raising awareness and spreading the message of sun safety for young Australians, while others are melanoma patients themselves who receive support and encouragement through Jay’s social media page.
“I’ve developed really great friendships through the Facebook page and they’re now supporting me,” said Jay. “The support never stops. We even catch up for coffees.”
At 45 years old and with six kids ranging in age from just a few months to 25, Jay is acutely aware of the need for him to stay healthy both for his family as well as his community. In fact, his doctors believe his exceptional health has put him in the best position possible to survive the new cancer which he is now facing.
Surgery was ruled out as an option because Jay is such an important voice for melanoma. While he says the 15 to 39 age group is often the focus of national awareness campaigns, students in the first three years of high school need to be the new focus as this is the age when the sun safety message usually falls apart.
“Up to the end of primary school, the ‘no hat, no play’ message is very strong but after that, it all falls apart,” Jay said.
While fighting his throat cancer, Jay is also considering new ventures to raise awareness for melanoma. The 4700 kilometre journey from Cape York to Brisbane is next on his trekking bucket list, followed by Perth to Sydney.
“More work needs to be done to raise awareness,” he said. “My professors have told me a lot of people have not been getting their skin checked and have put it off in Covid, which means they need to get out and do it.”