A schoolteacher who decided to get a suspected spider bite checked after a black lump on his knee wouldn’t go away was shocked to discover he had melanoma.
Matt Kean, 47, noticed a slight abnormality on his thigh while working in the garden for the weekend and thought it was an insect bite.
Matt expected the pain to subside with time, as there were no other signs. But when he decided to visit the doctor just over a month later, he received the terrible news that the ‘bite’ was actually cancer.
At his first scan, the oncologist revealed that Matt’s cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes in his groin.
“I honestly thought it was just a bug bite — and I’m really sorry I didn’t go to the doctor at the time,” Matt told FEMAIL.
“I try not to think about it, but it’s always in the back of my mind: How much difference could a month have made?”
A schoolteacher who decided to have a suspected spider bite checked after the black spot persisted for weeks was shocked to discover he had melanoma
“Within a few days after I first went to the doctor in October 2016, a lump was removed from my right thigh and then the lymph nodes in my groin were removed,” Matt recalls
Matt said he fell victim to the general masculine trait of thinking “everything will be fine.”
“There was a huge black bump on my knee and I just expected it to go away without doing anything.”
The teacher revealed what happened after the shock diagnosis.
“Within a few days after I first went to the doctor in October 2016, a lump was removed from my right thigh and then the lymph nodes in my groin were removed,” he recalls.
“Within weeks I was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic melanoma.
“Unfortunately, a routine PET (positron emission tomography) scan in November 2017 indicated that the cancer had spread to the nodes in my right hip, progressing to a diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic melanoma.”
Matt Kean, 47, noticed a slight bump on his thigh while working the weekend in the yard and wrote it off as an insect bite from his lawn
Matt revealed that his original prognosis was extremely bleak.
“They gave me only eight to ten years to live,” he said.
“It was so confronting being a man who had recently turned 40 and being told I might not make it to 50.”
The husband and father of two also said that cancer does not only affect one person, but the whole family.
“My cancer was something that happened to my whole family,” he said.
“It was horrible to think about not being able to watch my daughters grow up or be there for my wife because I was careless about applying sunscreen.
“I can never take back the impact I had on them – and I regret it every day.”
Seven years after Matt’s original diagnosis, his family hasn’t recovered from the shock.
“My oldest daughter has started looking at colleges now, but she told me she was afraid to leave the state in case I got sick again,” Matt said.
“They shouldn’t have to think about their father’s health while chasing their dreams.”
The father revealed that he remembered feeling “rushed” after his diagnosis and trying his best to be practical.
“I wanted to beat my cancer — there was no point in being flippant and throwing caution into the air by living each day as if it were my last,” he said.
“The most important thing for me was making memories with my wife and kids, and being positive about the situation.”
Seven years after Matt’s original diagnosis, his family hasn’t recovered from the shock
Matt is now cancer free as of 2019 but continues to have scans every four months to ensure the disease remains under control.
After his ordeal, Matt is now on a mission to encourage everyone to be diligent with skin checks and sun protection.
“As a teacher and educator, I want people to know that skin cancer can kill,” he said.
“I wasn’t careful enough and I wasn’t taking care of myself.
“I’m a fair-skinned redhead, all I was worried about was sunburn. Melanoma never occurred to me.’
Now Matt watches the UV Radiation Index every day and diligently applies sunscreen.
“Please protect yourself when you go out,” he said.
“If you notice anything on your skin changing color, shape, or size, see a doctor.”
What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?
There are three main types of skin cancer: melanoma (including nodular melanoma), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma
Melanoma: The most deadly form of skin cancer and if left untreated can spread to other parts of the body. Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes color, size, or shape
Basal cell carcinoma: Most common, least dangerous form of skin cancer. Red, pale or pearly in color, appearing as a lump or dry, scaly area. Grows slowly, usually in places that are often exposed to the sun
Squamous cell carcinoma: A thickened, red, scaly patch that bleeds, crusts, or ulcerates easily. Grows for several months, usually in places frequently exposed to the sun. More common in people over 50 years of age