Melanoma warrior story: Chantelle

We met Chantelle at the end of 2020. Chantelle and her sister are the third generation in their family, born and raised in South Africa. By profession, she is an accountant and an auditor, but now she cares for two young daughters and is struggling with metastases from melanoma.
Our heroine is an inspiring warrior with cancer. She blogs about her fight against the disease to help people learn more about the prevention and treatment of skin cancer. According to her, if you look for statistics on melanoma in the world, then the USA and Australia will certainly be in the first places, where it is customary to speak openly and cover the problem of skin cancer. In her own country, it is almost impossible to do this. When she was faced with a diagnosis and tried to find people with melanoma in her homeland, she simply failed.

“I try to raise as much awareness as I can in South Africa, there's so little. Even when I was looking for melanoma warriors from South Africa on Instagram, I couldn't find them. So yeah, it's actually that's why I'm trying so hard to spread the word”.

There are also no people among the heroine's friends and relatives who have been diagnosed with melanoma, but other oncological diseases are common.

“I don't know of anyone in my family that has been diagnosed with melanoma. So we have a lot of other cancers. Breast cancer is very prevalent in my family. But no, there's never been a melanoma case”.

Chantelle was first diagnosed in 2016 when she was in college. But, the doctor assured her that melanoma very rarely returns if it is removed at the first stage. Therefore, when she was diagnosed for the second time, it was a real shock. The matter was complicated by the fact that she and her husband were expecting their second child.

“So, being diagnosed while I was pregnant we had to make a very difficult decision. My oncologist wanted me to terminate my pregnancy. I was 23 weeks at the time. So I told her there's no way. So I made the conscious decision to stick it up knowing that there was a very big risk that it could spread to other parts of my body and unfortunately, that's what happened. It's been a very difficult journey. It's been a very difficult road. Also because of my little one, it's been very tough to say the least”.

After the birth of the girl, Chantelle was prescribed a full examination, and it turned out that metastases appeared in vital internal organs, including the brain. But at the same time, the daughter was born healthy, which gave the young mother strength in the fight against her illness.

“I want to say that your personality and the strength of your character, when it is put to the test and you go through deep waters like me, you actually realize how strong you are, and we all have it in us, and we just need to find it. Unfortunately, I had to go through this (read - illness) to find him. But when I found it, I realized how strong I was. I've never been more positive, and although my body feels bad, mentally I've never felt better. So yes, this is what I would like to convey”.

On her Instagram page, Chantelle encourages people to keep an eye on their moles. According to her, she herself did not pay attention to the changes in her body and admits that her life would have changed dramatically if she had an affordable and reliable way to track her moles and spots on her body at hand.

“I wish I could have bought a device for myself then (correction - there was no NOTA in 2016 yet), because I would have used her and she would have told me that something was wrong. I think the device you guys have made is absolutely incredible, and especially in countries like this where little is known about melanoma. This is so important because you can really open people's eyes. I think it's a lot easier when you have a device that you can use yourself at home. So yes, brilliant work. Thank you guys so much. It changed the rules of the game so much”.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Chantelle to give advice to our readers - how to protect yourself from skin cancer?

“My skin cancer started when I was sunbathing as a teenager. I would say, please, never use a tanning bed. Use SPF every single day, whether it's raining or the sun is shining. You need to take care of your skin, because, unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that it's not just something you cut out of your skin, and that's where the story ends. Unfortunately, melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer, and when it begins to spread, it is very difficult to treat”.

The heroine recommended paying special attention to sunscreen, which she regularly uses herself, applying it to her face and entire body, and also protects the skin of her young children from harmful ultraviolet radiation. According to her, it is better to be too careful than to fight the most dangerous type of skin cancer later.
The interview was conducted by Karina Babikova, COO Artes Electronics
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