ACT News


Brave Daniel's legacy to warn others about danger of melanoma

One of melanoma patient Daniel Paton's dying wishes was to raise awareness about the cancer, his doctor has said.

The 27-year-old Wagga Wagga abattoir worker died at Calvary Hospital on Sunday night, days after marrying his girlfriend Ashlea Hanson in an emotional ceremony in the hospital chapel.

A nurse provided a wedding dress and shoes for Ms Hanson, the hospital's in-house Zouki Cafe made the wedding cake.

Another staff member brought in a video camera to capture the wedding, which thousands of people later watched online.

Cancer specialist Richard Harrison said Mr Paton had worked hard to raise awareness of melanoma and its causes.

''One of Daniel's last wishes was to make certain [that if] someone … could learn from this, it was worth him doing it,'' he said. Dr Harrison said melanoma was Australia's ''signature cancer'', with the highest rates of melanoma in the world.


It is the fourth most-common cancer in Australia and the most common cancer to lead to death among 18-year-olds to 35-year-olds.

About three-quarters of melanomas were caused by sun exposure, Dr Harrison said.

''It's really that intense, short and intermittent sun exposure, and classically that's sunburn,'' he said.

Dr Harrison said people should look out for any mole that is new, and any one that shows signs of change should be checked because it is treatable if caught early.

''Particularly [if it] gets bigger, gets darker or changes colour, or bleeds or itches or gets raised up, it's worth having a GP look at that,'' Dr Harrison said.

Eileen Friedlieb, a melanoma care nurse with the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust, treated Mr Paton before he died.

She said people with fair skin and blue eyes, who had a lot of freckles or moles, or who were exposed to the sun regularly were most at risk of developing the cancer.

Regularly applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat were all key measures to avoid sunburn, she said.

''We can go out in the sun for 10 minutes in the morning, not in the hottest part of the day, in the late afternoon and get our vitamin D dose,'' she said.

''We just cannot be out in the hottest times of the day between 12pm and 3pm, and if we do we need to use the 'sun-smart' rules.''

Daniel's mother, Helen Paton, speaking just after the wedding, said her son's melanoma had been first detected when he had a mole on his arm and bumped it a couple of times.

''He just kept getting more and went on clinical trials in January, which worked for a little while and kept it at bay, but it started growing again,'' Mrs Paton said.