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Liz's melanoma journey

Wednesday 23 September 2020

The last three years have been especially tough on Nanango's Elizabeth Moller, but thanks to Dr Michael Wagels and the PA Hospital (PAH), she is healthy and free of cancer.

In October of 2017, Elizabeth's world was rocked by a stage 5 melanoma diagnosis, with her doctor cutting the melanoma from the top of her head. With more area of her scalp needing to be removed, Elizabeth would soon come under the care of PA Hospital Surgeon Dr Michael Wagels for rotational scalp surgery.

Having been through the shock and pain of her first melanoma diagnosis, and ensuing treatment, Liz was hit with another blow just months later, when she visited Dr Wagels for a check-up, and he found a lump.

"The 29th of November (2017) was my first operation with him," she said.

"I was going up and down for regular check-ups, CT scans and all that in the months that followed. I went to see Dr Wagels in April (2018), and he was examining my head and feeling under my ears, and he found another lump behind my right ear.

"If it wasn't for him (Dr Wagels) I wouldn't be here.

"He's excellent. Sometimes I take my sister or my partner, they can't fault him. He's a good person, and a real nice bloke."

If Elizabeth didn't have enough on her plate, in April of 2018 her second melanoma removal operation took place, and in December of that same year she lost her brother Mark to motor neurone disease. Her mother Beverly then passed away from lung cancer just weeks later on 10 January 2019.

"My mum got really sick and she never came out of the hospital and went to a nursing home. I ended up losing her last year," she said.

"Within a month I'd lost my brother, then my mother. Plus dealing with everything that I've been dealing with my cancers and melanomas. At the time though I had to stay strong for mum.

"When I told mum, I had cancer again she broke down, that was so hard to see your mother cry. Then I had to tell her that my brother passed away because she was bedridden.

"She was in a nursing home by then, that was the hardest thing, seeing your mum cry, and hearing that her son passed away, and then her knowing her daughter's going through what she was going through.

"She had a few things going wrong for her in the end, but I was with her right up to her very last day."

Elizabeth also recently learned that though she has beaten melanoma twice, she has tested positive for what is known as the BRAF gene, meaning cancer could rear its ugly head a third time.

With the support of her partner of 23 years, Paul, Elizabeth remains hopeful of a cancer-free future despite the knowledge that she has the BRAF gene and her care team keeping an eye on a spot of potential concern.

"I tested positive for the BRAF gene, so they said to me, "it can come back". But when and where they can't say," she said.

"They said there's a small spot there, but it hasn't grown, and it's not growing, it's just laying there, so that's what they're watching.

Elizabeth's last few years have made her a passionate advocate for cancer research, remaining thankful for the ongoing care and support she has received from PAH staff.

"I signed some papers when I got my last one done, any moles or anything like that that get cut off me that look like melanomas, they can go to research," she said.

"I donated them for research because If I can help someone find a cure for this horrible thing, I want to do that. I don't mind helping out any way I can, because he's a great surgeon, and he's a good man.


"They can pop up anywhere, they can come up in your mouth, on the bottom of your eyelids. The last one was under the skin, and I couldn't feel it, but he (Dr Wagels) did.

"Even his whole team, because when I go up for check-ups at the melanoma clinic, I get different doctors every time, but they've all been good. They've just been so caring and understanding and helpful. I can't fault them.

"I can't be more thankful to the PA as a whole."

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