Yvonne Clifford counts herself fortunate every single day.
Having survived two melanomas, she knows it might have been a completely different story had they not been found early.
The 78-year-old’s family history is filled with the aggressive cancer.
Her niece has also battled it. Her daughter has fought skin cancers. Melanoma claimed the life of one of her cousins, aged just 42. Yet another cousin has also beaten it.
Mrs Clifford had her first surgery to remove a melanoma in 1974, when she was 34-years-old.
“Because it was on my face, the surgeon in Wagga didn’t feel confident to remove it so he sent me to Sydney to have it done,” Mrs Clifford said.
The second melanoma was on her arm. She had removed in Albury in 2014.
Mrs Clifford had the means to travel for treatment. But those who do not have the ability to do so are struck with a potentially life threatening dilemma.
“Mine weren’t cancerous only because we found them early and had them removed before they could get bad.”
Mrs Clifford’s realisation has been made more profound by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Cancer In Australia report.
When the statistics are mapped out, a clear pattern emerges.
It appears where you live might determine your likelihood of developing certain cancers, and additionally the likelihood of dying from it.
The statistics are aggregated from the socio-economic advantage, remoteness, average income, and density of Indigenous population.
Wagga sits just above the national average for incidences of all cancers, but the difference is sharpest for prostate cancer.
Per 100,000 people, an estimated 236.5 will end up with this cancer.
In Albury, that is around 188.6 cases in every 100,000, which is still high against the national average.
Incidences of melanoma in Wagga are sitting at 51.2 in every 100,000 people. In Albury, it is 40.8 in every 100,000.
In Sydney’s Inner West, instances of melanoma occur as infrequently as 2.9 in every 100,000.
“I grew up in the country and spent a lot of time in the paddock,” said Mrs Clifford.
“I used to ride my pushbike a couple miles to school everyday, and we just weren’t conscientious of it then.”
Ever since her first scare, Mrs Clifford has had regular skin checks at a dermatological clinic, first in Griffith and now in Albury.
Though she would prefer to attend a clinic closer to home.
“I became very cautious with myself and my children after the first one,” she said.
“I did ring one in Wagga but they told me they weren’t taking any new patients.
“There aren’t many around, if I couldn’t drive I’d be a bit stuck.”