Oh for the Good Ol’ Days

Oh for the Good Ol’ Days

By Mike Hilder

6 February 2015

How often have we heard someone express the sentiment, “Oh for the Good Ol’ Days”.

Well I certainly don’t yearn for those days when it comes to living and dealing with melanoma.

My brush with melanoma was almost 37 years ago. In 1978, colour TV was barely 3 years old in Australia and mobile phones were unheard of. Computers and associated technology was in its infancy. Consequently, the use of sophisticated technology in the field of medicine had some way to go.  

My treatment for melanoma was surgically very invasive and the follow up chemotherapy very physically debilitating.

Information sharing between doctors and patients seemed to be very much on a “needs to know” basis. I didn’t know what platelets were but I knew that was one of the things they checked in each blood test during my chemo treatment.  I couldn’t Google it. So I wondered why I was bruising so easily all of the time. I had only finished playing rugby league 12 months prior to my diagnosis and endured some heavy knocks without the same degree of bruising.

Because my chemo went for so long, 23 months, it was a huge psychological effort each month to continue. Many times I decided I had had enough, I’m not doing this anymore. The thought of dying never crossed my mind. But I thought of my young wife and family, and knew that it was my responsibility to keep going. As the eldest of 6 children, my father taught me from a very young age about responsibility and how he always expected more from me because I was the eldest.

Even though my wife was always there to support me and make those periods of treatment bearable, I felt I was the only one this is happening to. I felt isolated and alone. Not so much frightened but alone. How could anyone know what I was going through? There were no melanoma patient support groups back then.

But I did make it! Obviously I carry the physical scars now, it looks a bit like a shark bite and I’ve even told some people that’s what it is! But psychologically it was tough, although time has fortunately erased those scars.

As soon as I found out about the Melanoma Patient Support group and the tremendous work Jay Allen from MIA does in this area, I decided to become a part of it.  I wanted to support people going through tough times because I knew exactly how they felt. We’ve come such a long way in treating and dealing with melanoma and I know that will continue. I’m very glad that those Ol’ Days of melanoma treatment are just that.

Read Mike's patient story.

Mike's scar from his melanoma surgery in the 1970s is often mistaken for a shark bite.