If Brian Callaghan had missed his annual skin check by a GP, he wouldn't be alive today. It took just 12 months for two life-threatening melanomas to grow on his back.
"They were obvious to me straight away when I was examining Brian," said GP Christian Hughes from the Jamieson Medical Clinic in Warrnambool.
"They certainly weren't there a year ago. They were quite big - about 1.5 centimetres in diameter each - and were close together. If they weren't picked up, he simply wouldn't be with us now."
Dr Hughes has years of experience in skin cancer clinics and wants people, especially over 40 years of age, to book in for an all-over skin check. "It's very straight forward and only takes about 20 minutes," he said. "If we do find anything that needs to be removed, we can often do it here at the clinic. Finding growths in early stages can generally be treated quickly and easily."
Mr Callaghan, 77, had his skin checked on May 22 and due to their size and positioning, had the melanomas removed on June 18 by Warrnambool surgeon, Dr Brendan Mooney. "I was a bit surprised they'd grown so quickly, but I knew I was in good hands and I just wanted to get rid of them," he said.
Mr Callaghan said he has always been an outdoors person; camping, playing golf, at the beach, or watching kids' sport. "When I was about 45 I had some skin cancers removed from my face," he said. "But I didn't have another skin check until my wife Claire encouraged me to do so more recently."
Mr Callaghan believes everyone should have an initial all-over skin check and risk assessment. "At least the doctor can keep an eye on anything they find," he said. "Things can change so quickly. I think people over a certain age think they are home free from this kind of thing, but this isn't the case."
Dr Hughes, who is studying his Masters in Skin Cancer, said medical practitioners were becoming more skilled at identifying melanomas early. "If you're over 40 and notice something growing on your skin, chances are, it's not supposed to be there," he said. "Come straight in to the clinic and we can get onto it nice and early."
Dr Hughes said people with more than 100 moles, or skin that has visibly suffered sun damage, should make a skin check a top priority. "People of all ages should protect their skin from UV rays all-year round, not just when the sun is out," he said.
Recovering close to home a breath of fresh air
Following a recent fall and subsequent hip fracture, retired Warrnambool GP Dr David Shimmin needed to have a hip replacement.
In order to ensure he went home in tip top condition, the sprightly 86-year-old opted for admission to St John of God Warrnambool's Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.
According to Dr Shimmin, availing himself of the gym and the exercise program meant he felt more confident about getting back to his pre-injury self and routine. An active gardener with an impressive rose collection, he is already working with the discharge planners to get himself home.
Dr Shimmin was also full of praise for the care received at St John of God Warrnambool Hospital (SJOGWH). His wife Margaret has had several operations in hospitals in Melbourne, but the couple said these hospitals pale in comparison to SJOGWH.
Dr Shimmin said that each time he could not wait to get Margaret back to SJOGWH. "Coming in the door at St John's was like taking a breath of fresh air," he said.
This feeling is echoed by many of St John's other patients - having surgery or an accident requiring care in another town or city means that you are a long way from family and support.
St Johns has a comprehensive rehab program right in the heart of home and community and this goes a long way to assisting with optimum recovery. Needless to say, the Shimmins are looking forward to being at home together very soon.
Caring for the eyes of the community
Locally owned and operated, Specsavers Warrnambool is led by optometrist Mehul Patel and dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the community - so much so, that they have invested in technology and products to cater to customers' individual needs.
"We use Optical Coherence Tomography or OCT, which is the next generation of eye health care and helps our optometrists detect serious eye diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal changes that may be associated with diabetes," Mehul says.
A wide range of glasses frames in different styles, shapes and colours are available at the store. Designer glasses include exclusive collections from renowned Australian designers Ellery, Alex Perry and Collette Dinnigan.
"Our team is here to help glasses wearers find a pair to complement their lifestyle so offering an extensive range of frames means that there is something for everyone," says Mehul. "It's really important to us that our customers feel good when they wear their glasses." Bringing value to the eye wear market, Specsavers Warrnambool now offers its customers free standard multifocal lenses when they purchase one pair of frames from the $149 range or above.