A much-loved mother and member of the Pambula community who tragically lost her battle with cancer will be remembered at an upcoming event that aims to raise awareness of melanoma.
Pambula Melanoma Awareness Day, on Sunday, 30 May, will be held in memory of Tracey Beasley.
“She was a warrior whose dying wish was for the message of melanoma awareness to spread far and wide,” says Louise Yeoman, Tracey’s friend and member of Pambula Business Chamber’s Melanoma Awareness sub-committee.
She says Tracey’s story began when she was 19 and went on an end of high school holiday to Bali, where she got so badly sunburnt she lost three layers of skin.
“She wanted to leave Bali with a tan because the other girls had such lovely skin and she wanted to be the same,” says Louise.
Tracey had a melanoma removed from her back in 2005, and 10 years later a tumour grew in her brain which was confirmed as a secondary melanoma.
She had years of invasive brain surgeries and developed tumours on her lungs before she died in June 2019.
“Tracey wished others would just accept yourself for the way you are, and not to go out and strive to be anything more,” says Louise.
“Tracey would say, ‘Love the skin you’re in, love your red hair, love your freckles and love your dimples because its what makes you who you are’.”
Louise says Tracey was passionate about cancer awareness. For instance, she introduced brimmed sun-safe hats into a local primary school and advocated the importance of wearing a good sunscreen.
Another friend, Emily Abbott, says Tracey is remembered in many ways, including for her infectious smile that revealed dimples and a twinkling eye, as well as for her sunny disposition and bright energy.
“Her genuine interest in the lives of others did not wane even during the last and most difficult months of her life,” she says.
“Tracey was a trailblazer for backyard adventure and relished in a good laugh.
“She was prepared to speak her mind on the things that mattered to her the most. The community witnessed this conviction during the invasive and life-altering treatments she was required to undergo.”
Emily says Tracey’s journey with cancer helped people to better understand melanoma and the ways it can be prevented.
“However, of greater value were her teachings on the critical role of our attitudes in facing challenge, and how we can hold onto hope and optimism in the absence of certainty,” she says.
Australia has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world, with one person diagnosed every 30 minutes, according to Melanoma Institute Australia.
Cancer Council estimated that 16,221 new cases of melanoma would have been diagnosed in Australia in 2020.
According to Cancer Council, ways to prevent getting a melanoma include avoiding sunburn by minimising your sun exposure when the UV Index is three or above, and especially in the middle of the day when UV levels are at their most intense.
Seek shade; wear a hat that covers your head, neck and ears; wear sun-protective clothing; wear close-fitting sunglasses; and wear an SPF30 sunscreen. Also, avoid using solariums.
Pambula Melanoma Awareness Day is supported by Pambula Chamber of Commerce and will be held on Sunday, 30 May, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at Discovery Parks, Pambula Beach. Entry is via the Broken Oar.
Planned activities include mega games, a mini zoo, a magician, food, live music, face painting, performing art displays, vintage cars and more.
There will also be friendly competitions, prizes and giveaways, as well as the Health Hub which will be supported by local medical professionals who will provide information, education, a free mini health check up and more.
Every visitor to the Health Hub will receive a free raffle ticket into the main prize draw.
The event is supported by Robert Smith Homemakers, Sleep Doctor Pambula, Pambula Rotary, Bendigo Bank and Discovery Parks Pambula Beach.
For more information, visit the Pambula Melanoma Awareness Day Facebook page.
For more information about cancer, including on how to access support, visit Cancer Council.