health

22 y/o Emma has terminal cancer. And she wants you to get your skin checked.

dear melanoma launch
Emma with Mamamia columnist Bec Sparrow.

Emma Betts is 22 years old.

She just celebrated her wedding in March. She loves to travel and has worked as a volunteer in East Timor for years. She adores children, and also happens to be Mamamia columnist Bec Sparrow’s beloved baby sitter.

And she’s one hell of an inspirational young woman.

Emma has raised almost $24,000 for melanoma research — and by launching a new blog called ‘Dear Melanoma’ next month, she’s determined to continue raising funds to combat the deadly skin cancer.

“Research is so important for melanoma,” Emma tells Mamamia. “Although there is no cure for melanoma for many patients, new trials allow them to have as much time possible with families.”

Emma is speaking from experience. You see, she found her first melanoma, on her back, in October, 2012.

dear melanoma launch
On 16 March 2014, Emma and her husband Serge Simic, 24, were married.

She had it removed and had regularly attended check-ups to monitor her skin. But in August last year, Emma found a lump under her left arm.

“We came home to have it biopsied and it turned out be melanoma in my lymph nodes,” Emma says. Within a month, she’d been diagnosed with stage four melanoma — a terminal form of the skin cancer.

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“I was told the melanoma had spread to my liver, my lungs, my pancreas,” Emma says. “Pretty much everywhere.”

She started on a new drug that doctors hoped would afford her more time — but in January this year, doctors told her the prognosis was not good.

“At the rate the cancer was spreading, (they said) I’d only have three months left at most,” she says.

Emma is now hoping a trial drug will extend that by a few months but says she doesn’t expect a cure.

Emma’s focus now is on raising funds – as well as awareness – to help combat the deadly disease she has been living with.

dear melanoma launch
A wedding photo showing the scar from Emma’s original melanoma.

Last month, she walked the Melanoma March in Brisbane to raise money for the Melanoma Institute Australia, raising an incredible $24,000.

And next month, she’ll officially launch her new blog ‘Dear Melanoma’ to raise funds for the Melanoma Institute: the event will include a morning tea, as well as appearances by Mamamia columnist Bec Sparrow and other Brisbane TV and radio stars, including The Sunday Mail’s Frances Whiting and radio host Emily-Jade O’Keeffe.

And after the event? Emma says she wants to “concentrate on the awareness side of things”.

“It’s hard to believe that people don’t recognise melanoma as a serious and common cancer, considering the rates at which it does occur in Australia,” she says.

In particular, Emma says she wants to highlight that getting your skin checked is “not just for old people, but everyone”.

“I’m 22 and had my first melanoma at 21,” she says. “My goal is to make skin checks available to everyone.”

When speaking with Emma, you cannot help but be struck by her spirit and passion. She makes you want to embrace her cause as your own.

We truly hope that you will.

Details for Emma’s Dear Melanoma launch are as follows:

Official Launch of  ‘Dear Melanoma’

Where: The Auditorium, St Aidan’s School, 11 Ruthven St, Corinda

When: 10am-midday, Sunday 8 June, 2014

Tickets: $45 per person (includes a scrumptious morning tea)

To reserve your place: email the number of tickets you want and the names of your guests to [email protected], then do a direct deposit to the following bank account:

BSB:   124028

ACCOUNT NUMBER:   22171470

ACCOUNT NAME:  Emma Kate Betts Supporting Melanoma Institute Australia

All proceeds from the event (which will be nearly every penny) will go to the Melanoma Institute.

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