By Abbey Cannan
Sunshine Coast local and Melanoma March volunteer organiser, Raphael McGowan of Bakslap, has been orchestrating the coast’s annual Melanoma March for the last several years, this year bringing it to Noosa’s stunning shores for the first time.
Taking place on the first Sunday of the Noosa Festival of Surfing, 6 March, the family-friendly walk will trace the boardwalk and coastline from Noosa Main Beach to National Park before returning.
Bakslap, the product behind the cause was created by Raph on the Sunshine Coast in 2017 following the death of his sister Tess who was diagnosed with inoperable melanoma found in the middle of her back and passed away in 2012.
“I didn’t want Tess’s death to be in vain and after doing a lot of fundraising and research we found that getting sunburns on your back are more likely to lead to melanoma than burns in any other location,” he said.
“It’s not just the Bakslap team, we have a whole team of volunteers each year to help organise Melanoma March.”
The March is an opportunity to connect with others who have directly and indirectly suffered from the impact of melanoma, to raise awareness and, of course, bring some much needed financial support to melanoma research.
With such a tangible connection to this cause, many competitors having had, or knowing others who have had, melanoma scares, the Noosa Festival of Surfing is only too eager to support this worthy event. By working together, they will help raise further awareness of melanoma skin cancer and how to enjoy the sunshine responsibly.
“We always have a good turn-out of participants, but this year we hope to expand that,” Raph said.
“Surfers are some of the most at-risk individuals to melanoma, so the connection between this year’s Melanoma March and the Noosa Festival of Surfing is both powerful and vital.”
Despite the seriousness of the issue, Melanoma March is about positivity. “We need to support and uplift each other, to not make the event about the tragic loss that melanoma causes, but about the positivity of support for recovery, both physically and emotionally,” he said.
Raph said they aim to have Melanoma March continue as an annual event on the Coast for many years.
“But to do this we need the support of local businesses, who share the passion for raising awareness,” he said.
“This year we’re thrilled to have the support of Cricks Volkswagen as a local partner, such an iconic, family owned brand.”
Dealer Principal, Cricks Volkswagen Sunshine Coast Dean Stuart said having lost a colleague to melanoma in 2017 it was an easy decision to partner with Melanoma March and the Bakslap brand in helping spread the word on sun safety.
With the highest melanoma rates in the world, it is estimated 1300 people will die from melanoma in Australia this year. The main preventable cause of melanoma is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. The good news is that if detected early, melanoma can be effectively treated. A regular skin check at least once every 12 months to maximise the chances of picking up melanoma early.
This year is the 11th anniversary of Melanoma Institute Australia’s national Melanoma March fundraising campaign, which is needing to raise $1 million to support a world-first personalised immunotherapy clinical trial for advanced melanoma patients.
Currently, 50% of advanced melanoma patients don’t respond to, or develop resistance to the immunotherapy treatment which saves others. The clinical trial is to test a Personalised Immunotherapy Platform designed to ensure these patients get effective treatment the first time, based on their own genetics and tumour biology.
It is recommended to pre-register you and your team for Sunshine Coast Melanoma March. The event brings attention to this ever-present issue, not only for we surfers, but for all Australians, young and old.
When: Sunday 6 March 2022
Time: 4pm to 6pm (registrations 3pm-3:45pm and walk commences 4pm)
Where: Noosa Main Beach
Cost: $40 adults, $20 children (under 5 free)
What’s on: 4km community walk for awareness starting at Noosa Main Beach, along the iconic beach boardwalk to Nationals Car Park and back. Once complete we’d recommend staying and enjoying the live music and a cold drink with friends and family.
Please visit melanomamarch.org.au for more details on the event.