Discovering an Aggressive Melanoma: A News Presenter’s Frightening Story
Kirstie Fitzpatrick, a Channel 7 news presenter, recently shared her frightening story of discovering an aggressive melanoma that doctors could never properly diagnose. She was just 19-years-old when she noticed a bump forming overnight on her elbow, which began growing rapidly. Several doctors told her there was nothing to worry about, but she decided to get the lump removed “for cosmetic reasons” before moving from the regional NSW town of Orange to Sydney to start university. Little did she know that this decision would change her life forever.
A few weeks after moving to Sydney, Fitzpatrick received an early morning weekend phone call from her doctor while in her university dorm. The doctor told her that she had an extremely rare form of cancer which couldn’t be categorised. A devastated Fitzpatrick knew that was the end of university in Sydney. She moved back to Orange to be with family and start her treatment.
No pathologist could work out exactly what type of melanoma Fitzpatrick had. Her case progressed to the head of pathology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where she regularly travelled back and forth to for appointments. After “quite invasive and major surgery” to remove her lymph nodes and cancerous cells, Fitzpatrick got the good news that the cancer was localised in that area and she was likely to recover fully. Although, she couldn’t move her arm for six weeks.
“To this day, they still don’t know exactly what it was or what caused it,” she said. She has reportedly had two further surgeries since then and found 15 to 20 more lesions, moles and bumps, thanks to regular skin checks. “It has been, and still is, a big part of my life,” she said, adding she never tanned without sunscreen growing up and has no family history of cancer. “It doesn’t necessarily link it directly to sun exposure,” she said.
During her recovery journey, Fitzpatrick changed her university course from marketing and media to study a Bachelor of Communications in journalism at Bathurst’s Charles Sturt University. Her health scare gave her the motivation she needed to chase her dream job. “If this hadn’t have happened to me, I wouldn’t be a journalist,” she said of her cancer diagnosis.
While working at 7 News Canberra, Fitzpatrick also became an ambassador for the Skin Cancer College Australasia, where she spreads the important message of what cancer can look like and how it does not discriminate. She warned everyone to check their skin regularly for any change, from the obvious places of arms and legs to more obscure spots like in between toes and under fingernails.
Describing what to look out for, she told 7Life: “Anything that might be sore, scaly, bleeding, tender, changing in shape, size or colour. Is it abnormal? Does it feel different?” “If you do notice something that’s different, find an accredited skin cancer professional so they can do a full body skin check and make sure there’s nothing of concern.”
Fitzpatrick’s story is a reminder that melanoma can be aggressive and doesn’t discriminate, even in those who never tanned without sunscreen growing up and have no family history of cancer. It’s crucial to check your skin regularly and seek professional help if you notice any changes. As Fitzpatrick’s journey shows, a health scare can give you the motivation you need to chase your dreams and make a difference in the world.
- Cancer diagnosis
- Kirstie Fitzpatrick
- Channel 7 presenter
- Frightening diagnosis
- Cancer awareness
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