It was early 2013 and Kate Stead had a lot going on. She had one child and was pregnant with a second, and she was working full-time. But her mother-in-law wouldn’t stop hassling her.
“My mother-in-law is a theatre nurse for a plastic surgeon and she kept pointing at this mole on my arm and saying, ‘Have you got that checked? I don’t like the look of it,’” the Sydney mum tells Mamamia. “I’d go, ‘Yeah, whatever. I’ve got other things to worry about.’”
But Stead’s mother-in-law wouldn’t give up.
“She was quite persistent about it and said, ‘I’ve talked to the surgeon that I work for about it and he thinks that you should definitely come and get it checked. Here’s the number.’ I said, ‘Fine.’ So I went down and he looked at it and said, ‘Yeah, that’s not good.’”
A biopsy showed it was a melanoma, which needed to be taken out as soon as possible.
“As I was lying there, the surgeon was like, ‘So it’s good that we got this now because you’d be dead in a year.’ And I went, ‘Oh right, okay, I kind of wish you hadn’t told me that.’”
The first surgery didn’t get everything, so Stead had to have a second one under general anaesthetic. The surgeon told her that because she was pregnant, the melanoma was growing faster than it normally would have. There was also the possibility that her unborn daughter could be affected by the cancer – which, fortunately, she wasn’t.
“There was this fear behind the rest of the pregnancy,” Stead adds.
Looking back recently at a photo from the time, Stead says the mole was “really large”.
“It was probably half the size of a five-cent piece and really rough around the edges, a dark brown mole with different coloured bits in it. It was really big and getting bigger.”