He's also a stage four cancer survivor. He's had 11 or so bouts of cancer in the last 13 years. It started when he went to hospital a couple of years before his 30th birthday with what he thought was a hernia and they removed a tumour. His daughter was only months old. Since then they've removed more cancer, a rib, loads of lymph nodes and what not. The flame haired daughter is now in high school.
We live under a harsh sun. We like to be outdoors, to feel the sun soaking through our skin. We're only a couple of decades on from a time where it was normal to cover yourself in coconut oil and try and attract the sun to your skin. The people on the land invariably have t-shirt tan lines where constant exposure to the elements has weathered their bodies. Sun beds are only recently banned, many young adults hungry for colour, baked themselves into a shade of bronze they thought would make life better. The beaches and parks are often filled with people of all ages angling for 'the perfect tan'.
Rusty's melanoma wasn't hanging about on a part of his body that saw regular sun exposure. He led an outdoorsy sort of life - he was a life guard, rowed, played football - but as pale skinned, freckled individual he wasn't expecting to 'bronze'.
As a new father he wasn't expecting a tumour smack bang in the middle of his body either. His life plan had not allowed that for the next thirteen years he'd raise that daughter with his beloved partner, start a business, pay off a mortgage, do all those kind of 'everyday things', all while popping in for radiation, to remove body parts, more treatment, more surgery.
12,500 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each year. Around 35 people a day. We have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. There are some things you don't want to be 'the best at'.
|Doesn't look like much does it?|
Teenagers. Young adults. Middle aged adults. Old adults. Mothers. Fathers. Lovers. Sisters. Brothers. Sons. Daughters. Friends.
It kills. Melanoma kills. Rusty owes much to the team at the Melanoma Institute and doctors and nurses at various Sydney hospitals. And he's not just a big guy, but big hearted. And grateful. So in the way of the world, he meets a guy at some Toyota function. A short guy with similar amounts of gratitude for similar reasons and they decide to walk from Sydney to Melbourne. Like you do. To raise some funds for the Melanoma Institute. To help find a cure. To support the ongoing research.
And most importantly - to raise awareness about Melanoma. To try and get 900 people get a skin check by 25 July. To make it an annual visit to the doctor. To be proactive about not dying.
To be proactive about not ever having the dubious title of "Stage IV 11 years Melanoma Survivor" following your name, or having blog posts written about you.
And this morning - accompanied by their support teams, families, personal trainers like Jeff Fenech and Jude Bolton (true story - they are probably prepared for this meander south my friends, very properly prepared) and the families of people who have lived the melanoma journey, they headed off over Sydney Harbour Bridge - destination Melbourne. In fact, they're going to wander into the MCG just before the Hawks/Swans game. People will do anything for a free ticket won't they?
Book a skin check and tell them here: RUSTY I DID IT I GOT A SKIN CHECK!
Follow their Facebook journey here: www.facebook.com/900kmforacure
Donate here: Here's a dollar or two Rusty and Jay to keep your pace up
And last but not least - SLIP SLOP SLAP people. Thank you.
*Please note this is not a sponsored post, just a supportive one.
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