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The spot turned up overnight and was about the size and colour of the tip of a black felt-tip pen.
Jane was surprised to notice it on the right side of her neck. Although the spot was small, she knew it was best to head to the doctor to get it checked out, particularly having spent a lifetime in the New Zealand sunshine.
Jane’s regular GP was fully booked for the week, so she took an appointment with a fellow GP at the practice. The GP performed a thorough examination on the spot, which was not sore, elevated, or uncomfortable to touch. Thankfully the doctor pronounced, “it’s not cancer, it’s nothing to worry about!”
In preparation for an overdue vacation to the Gold Coast two months later, she met with her usual GP to organise repeat prescriptions and a general check-up. She mentioned the spot in passing, and the GP referred her to a specialist at the Skin Institute for a closer inspection.
The specialist ordered the urgent removal of the spot, and organised a biopsy to establish the nature and reason for the sudden appearance of the spot on her neck. A small incision was made, the skin removed, and only one stitch was required to close the wound.
A week later she returned to the specialist for the removal of the stitch and a final consultation. He took her into his office and asked her to take a seat. “Jane, I am sorry to be the bearer of this news, but your biopsy results have returned a positive result for malignant melanoma, which is an aggressive type of skin cancer…”
The next day Jane was on a plane to the Gold Coast with her husband for what was meant to be a relaxing getaway. But instead of rest and relaxation, the vacation was filled with tears and anxiety.
“The only positive about the trip was it brought my husband and I closer together than ever before,’’ Jane says.
Jane’s insurance adviser had helped her file a claim prior to their departure, and they were quickly notified that their Private Medical Cover would fund any treatment costs. ‘‘The insurance company also let us know that they were going to pay out my Trauma Cover, to the tune of thousands of dollars. When I found this out, I bawled my eyes out. Not because the claim had been accepted, but because I thought I must be dying to be entitled to a claim of this significant magnitude. It seems silly now looking back at it, but stress makes it hard to think clearly.’’
On their return to Dunedin, Jane had surgery to remove two of her lymph nodes just a few days later. “I’d never had surgery before, nor had I ever been under general anaesthetic, so it rattled the family,’’ she remembers.
The surgery was successful, as was a preventative follow-up surgery to ensure that all cancer cells were removed. “My prognosis is great!’’ Jane exclaims. ‘‘I have no further treatment plan and I feel fantastic. I have a scar on my neck, which reminds me how lucky I am to be alive.
‘‘My husband constantly tells me that I dodged a bullet and I feel like I have. And I am absolutely convinced that my insurances made an extremely difficult journey so much easier.’’
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