We met Donnie in October 2020. The hero lives in the USA, not far from San Francisco, CA. Donnie is a real lucky guy, because his stage 3 melanoma was discovered completely by accident. And also - this is the world's first user of NOTA mole tracker.
We've been wanting to meet Donnie live for a long time, so when he agreed to an interview, we were very happy. The thing is that he actively supported us while the Kickstarter campaign was going on, and then helped fix the shortcomings in the device. Thanks to his help, it is much more convenient to use NOTA today.
Donnie was born and raised in California, and, according to him, this is the best place on Earth. He also talked a little about the "very fun place" of San Francisco with its crime and car accidents about where to find snow in California.
"It snowed here. Just a tiny little bit and then we have a mountain nearby called Mount Diablo and it's over 4000- 5000 feet. So if it gets cold enough, we get snow on the top of that mountain. But yeah, the weather has to be really cold and then you have the rain."
Donnie loves to travel, but the pandemic has been limiting him in this hobby for 2 years. Now his trips are limited to visits to his family in San Diego and LA, and before the pandemic there were frequent trips to Mexico in the summer and around the camp on Thanksgiving day.
"It's I'm looking forward to all of this, you know, getting better. So, we can travel again. I would like to drive around the United States more and see the national parks. I've been to a bunch of places."
Our hero was diagnosed with melanoma in 2015. If in Southern California they talk about melanoma on TV and hang banners, then in the northern part it is a rare disease. Donnie was among those who were helped to detect tumors by a lucky chance.
"My melanoma was caused by radiation the sun just once a year. I mean, my moles have not changed. So I'm a rare case. It was right here on the back of my ear. Yeah and it was never discovered because it was back there were no one could see it and by the time it started bothering me. It had really progressed and I felt I could feel the two lumps in my neck of the two tumors. Because one was in my main lymph node on my neck and the other one was right up here underneath my ear. The doctor said that was a fatty lymph node and assist. The doctor didn't know it was melanoma. And after a while I hurt my back playing tennis, and I had to go for an MRI and doctors found two tumors. I was lucky!"
For the past 6 years, complete scans have been clean, which means that the disease does not return.
"So, I ended up going back for another scan more radiation three months later, you know, to see if it was there or not and so she's concerned about how much radiation I got over the last six years with all the scans. So, now they're giving my body more time to inventory."
According to Donnie, all these years our hero has not neglected the means of protection.
"Personally, I have my UV shirt on. I wear it all night long sleeves. I have my sunscreen all over the face, the top of the hands, and then the rest of my body is completely covered. So the most important thing is covering up protecting, staying in the shade and wearing sunscreen and from 10am to 4pm is when the UV rays are strongest. You need to protect yourself the most."
At the end of our conversation, I asked for advice to the readers of the interview - how to protect yourself from melanoma?
"I just think it's important. It's such an easy disease to prevent and that's the key. Letting people know at a young age, teaching your children, not letting them get sunburned, you know those kinds of things and if we can make more people aware, which we're doing, I think, you know, it's going to make a difference eventually. But the way the UV rays are and everything to its, you know, going against this."