Nicole Giesler is organising the Mackay Melanoma March with help from her older brother Adrian Young.
Nicole Giesler is organising the Mackay Melanoma March with help from her older brother Adrian Young. Emma Murray

What her sister said saved her life

IT'S NOT every day that having your sister call a mole on your arm ugly can save your life, but that is exactly what happened to Nicole Geisler.

It was at a family dinner in 2014 when Nicole's sister Carla spotted the mole growing on her upper arm. That was the beginning of a harrowing journey for the family.

Nicole admits she didn't take the remark seriously and didn't take any action herself. It was her mum, Linda, whose mother had died of melanoma years before, who booked the appointment after overhearing Carla's remark.

"My mum booked me the appointment and I went and got it cut out and the results came back as stage two melanoma," Nicole said.

The family was devastated.

Sitting with her brother Adrian Young, the now 23-year-old plays down the seriousness of her diagnosis.

"At the time I probably didn't think it was as bad as it was because I was only 19," she said. "So I had stage two melanoma and all it was was a mole on my arm.

"I was on three-monthly check-ups, so within that three months I went back to get a check-up and another mole had appeared on my head.

"It was only three months and it had just appeared and it was another stage two melanoma," she said.

Still just 19, Nicole underwent another serious operation, this time on her face.

As the conversation progressed, both Nicole and Adrian became teary at the thought of what might have been. It's clear the two have a close relationship and that he was scared by the prospect of losing her several years ago.

Still, tough and resilient, Nicole plays down her experience. They admit it was Nicole's age and the support of her family and doctor that got her through that difficult time with as little stress and worry as possible.

But it wasn't that easy for her family. Adrian said it was one of the most difficult things he had been through.

"I think from mine and my siblings' perspective, when Nicole was diagnosed it was terrifying," he said tearfully.

Adrian is now channelling that energy into something positive - organising the inaugural Mackay Melanoma March.

An initiative of the Melanoma Institute Australia, Melanoma March 2019 aims to raise vital awareness and life-saving funds for research into the disease. More than 23 marches are taking place across the country.

For Adrian, the Mackay march will be about reminding people to get checked and also to memorialise those already lost.

"Melanoma March is about awareness, to remind the community to protect themselves, get regular skin checks and be sun smart," he said.

"Queensland has the highest rates of melanoma in the world and we need to be extremely vigilant to save lives.

"The march is also about reflection and remembrance of those we have lost, and those who have struggled and beaten this deadly disease."

Nicole, her brother and other family members will join those in the community impacted by the disease Saturday at Harrup Park. The march begins at 4.45pm.

Nicole has only recently moved from three-monthly checks to biannual checks but still finds it nerve-racking.

"It's scary going to the doctors and having something new cut out. Every time it's a three-day wait and if that phone rings in those days your heart just jumps," she said.

For details, to register to walk or to sponsor someone who is walking, visit www. melanomamarch.org.au.



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