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You never think it's going to be you

My name is Yanica Gauci, a 29-year-old secondary teacher at St Margaret College, School, where I teach Home Economics and Hospitality. I am also mentoring and training new Hospitality Teachers amongst other subject things. I have been married to Stephen for the past 3 years, and we have a one year old son Jake. My hobbies are arts and crafts, decorating and planning of events, cooking and baking. At the moment, all these hobbies are on hold since I am spending a lot of time with my son playing and beaching. My lifestyle is quite like all mothers, we have a passion for evening walks in summer and going to the beach with our boat. In winter we love family days, where we spend a lot of time with our families and friends.

 

Do you consider yourself responsible when it comes to skin protection?

Yes I do. When I was younger I had skin problems like acne and pigmentation and I was very cautious about them. However, since I am very pale, I always had a lot of moles. In 2011, I removed my first mole from my arm, where I never got a result of it. No news is good news I believe. I apply sun block during summer and winter especially on my face and arms.

 

How do you normally protect yourself from the sun?

I apply sun screen, always wearing sun glasses. However, I was never a person to wear long sleeves during summer.

 

What was your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with a grade 1 melanoma in April of this year.  

 

How did you first notice?

When I was pregnant with my little one, I noticed a mole which developed on my inner ankle. The mole got bigger in no time, from nothing to 2.5mm in a year. It got itchy and darker and I was very cautious about it. At first the GP told me not to worry, however after some months, I was referred to a dermatologist to get it checked.

 

How did you feel about it?

Despite that the dermatologist told me that it was a thin melanoma and it could be removed immediately after the second surgery, I was very concerned, moreover that I had a very young child, exactly a 9 month old. Hearing the word ‘cancer’ put me in a very difficult state of mind, especially until I told my relatives about it. I had a lot of courage and I fought hard to be sane for the second operation, so that my husband and son could keep going .

Hearing the word ‘cancer’ put me in a very difficult state of mind...

 

Do you think it had anything to do with your occupation?

I do not think my occupation had anything to do since I work inside and have no sun exposure. However, I do feel that stress does not help with any type of cancer.

 

What was the treatment process?

The treatment was a wider excision of the area where the mole was. However, since it was in my foot I had to have a skin graft. They removed a 1cm diameter and in depth of the mole.

 

Do you have any advice you’d like to share?

My advice is to first stay away from the sun, especially during the peak hours, and to have a skin screen yearly at a dermatologist. Do not take anything for granted. My mole looked very normal, with no irregular shape or of a very big size and it was a melanoma. I also have an advice for all parents with young children to protect their kids from a very young age and keep telling their teenagers to protect themselves from the sun.

My advice is to first stay away from the sun

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