31 May 2024

Gala ball to raise the roof as community gathers to raise money for cancer research and support

| Claire Sams
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A group of people in black-tie clothing standing in a line

After losing her brother to melanoma, Lee Louttit is campaigning for awareness of the disease. Photo: Jake lesu.

Like many families across the country, Lee Louttit’s has been touched by skin cancer.

“My younger brother, Anthony, was diagnosed six years ago with melanoma of the foot,” she said.

“Unfortunately, he was misdiagnosed. He put up an incredible fight and had all sorts of treatments and operations, but he lost his battle in September 2022.”

According to the Cancer Council, melanoma is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, while non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common cancers in Australia.

“He’s [Anthony] the driving force for us to do what we’re doing,” Ms Louttit said.

“The statistics are just horrendous.

“It’s not just cancers caused by sun exposure – Anthony’s melanoma was not sun-related.”

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For the second year in a row, Ms Louttit is raising money for the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation (the ASCF), a not-for-profit organisation.

“The number of people that they are helping out and supporting is incredible – in terms of families and people suffering with melanoma,” she said.

The ASCF was founded by Jay Allen, who is also a cancer survivor.

“Jay had something on his leg that he’d ignored. It ended up being a stage three melanoma when they finally took it out,” Ms Louttit said.

“Since that point, he has made it his mission in life to create awareness around sun safety and skin cancer.”

The Winter Gala Ball will be held on 22 June, with the money raised to be put towards the ASCF’s education, research and prevention efforts against skin cancer.

“We had our inaugural ball last year, where we had an incredible amount of sponsorship and support from our community,” she said.

“It was wonderful – we ended up raising $25,000 and we’re aiming higher again this year.”

Soul Tonic will perform on the night, and there will be drinks and canapes on offer.

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The first ASCF van hit the road in June, with Ms Louttit organising a two-day visit to Moruya and Broulee.

“They saw 283 people over that period. Quite a few people were referred on, to get things looked at and potentially removed,” she said.

“Jay wants to get trucks on the road to do free skin checks.

“The ultimate goal is to have at least one truck for every state, so people everywhere can have those specialist checks.”

For Ms Louttit, prevention is always better than a cure – and people should always keep an eye out for anything on their skin that doesn’t look familiar.

“I’m certainly an advocate of double-checking and triple-checking,” she said.

“It’s definitely worth getting a second opinion if something doesn’t feel right.”

The 2024 Winter Gala Ball will be held on 22 June. Tickets cost $130 per person and further information is available online.

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