Graham was born and raised in Cessnock NSW and holidayed on Lake Macquarie. He loved swimming and during his high school days swam every afternoon and all day Saturday at the local pool. His other love was sailing on Lake Macquarie where he was involved in racing a VJ from Toronto to Belmont.
At the age of 18 following his training in Sydney Graham left to work in New Guinea for the Australian Government and lived there for 7 years. Most of those years he lived on the coast and so many days were spent either swimming, snorkelling, water ski-ing, diving over the reefs or fishing – WITHOUT a shirt.
Having a Scottish heritage his skin did not tan well and with the constant sun exposure he finally paid the price for his lifestyle. Skin checks were not a regular occurrence and the GP only checked any areas of concern which Graham may have pointed out. One such spot was diagnosed as “nothing to worry about” but Lisa was not at all happy with the lesion and insisted that whatever it was it needed to be removed.
Many months after the first check an excision was finally performed and the pathology report revealed the crushing news that it was indeed a melanoma and by this time it had travelled to a depth of 3.1mm. The lymphoscintigraphy showed that the sentinel lymph node under the left shoulder area was malignant which meant that the melanoma had metasticised and was spreading. Surgery quickly followed.
There was only one treatment available for Graham as it was secondary melanoma and so he started on a two year program followed by a 12 month weaning off period. Unfortunately after 7 months this treatment was stopped and despite Graham’s letters to the Minister for Health, newspapers and the instigator of this decision no one responded and two months later the damage to his liver from the melanoma was so severe that he suffered kidney failure and was admitted to hospital where he died 19 days later. A tragic ending to an amazing grandfather, father and husband.
"Skin checks are vitally important for early detection." Lisa said. "Now we know we should be doing a self examination every three months and once a year with a GP or skin cancer doctor. Wives or husbands should check their partner's back and the hard to see areas and look for changing spots or anything that just doesn't look right."
Whilst Graham was battling melanoma he formed the Hunter Region's 'Melanoma Patients Australia' support group which is continued on today by his wife Lisa.