I thought I’d been bitten by a spider but when the bite turned black I got it checked out. Doctors told me it was cancer and that I was facing death
- Matt Kean was diagnosed with melanoma in 2016 and was given 8 years to live
- He found a ‘suspicious’ black spot on his leg that turned out to be cancer
A school teacher who decided to have a suspected spider bite checked out after a black lump on his knee didn’t go away was shocked to discover he had melanoma.
Matt Kean, 47, noticed a slight abnormality on his thigh while he was doing yard work one weekend and thought it was an insect bite.
Matt expected the sore to go away with time as there were no other signs. But when he decided to visit the doctor more than a month later, he received the devastating 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 really thought it was just an insect bite – and it’s one of my great regrets that I didn’t go to the doctor that very minute,’ Matt told FEMAIL.
‘I try not to dwell on it, but it’s always at the back of my mind: How much difference could a month have made?’
A school teacher who decided to have a suspected spider bite checked out after the black dot persisted for weeks was shocked to discover he had melanoma
‘Within a few days of first going to the doctor in October 2016, I had a lump removed from my right thigh and subsequently had the lymph nodes in my groin removed,’ Matt recalled
Matt said that he fell victim to the common male trait of thinking ‘everything will be alright’.
‘There was a huge black lump 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 of first going to the doctor in October 2016, I had a lump removed from my right thigh and subsequently had the lymph nodes in my groin removed,’ he recalled.
‘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 up inside my right hip, with the progression to a diagnosis of Stage 4 metastatic melanoma.’
Matt Kean, 47, noticed a slight abnormality on his thigh while he was doing yard work one weekend and chalked it off as an insect bite from his lawn
Matt revealed that his original prognosis was extremely grim.
‘They only gave me between eight and ten more 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 also said that cancer doesn’t only happen to one person, but to the entire family as well.
‘My cancer was something that happened to my whole family,’ he said.
‘It was devastating having to think of not being able to watch my daughters grow up or be there for my wife because I was careless with my sunscreen application.
‘I can never take back the impact I had on them – and I regret that every day.’
Seven years after Matt’s original diagnosis, his family is yet to shake the fright they received.
‘My eldest daughter has started looking at universities now, but she told me she was scared of leaving the state in case I got sick again,’ Matt said.
‘They shouldn’t have to think about their dad’s health while chasing their dreams.’
The father revealed that he remembered feeling ‘rushed’ after his diagnosis and tried his best to be practical.
‘I aimed to beat my cancer – there was no use being flippant and throwing caution into the air by living like every day was my last,’ he said.
‘The most important thing to me was making memories with my wife and kids, and being positive about the situation.’
Seven years after Matt’s original diagnosis, his family is yet to shake the fright they received
Matt has now been cancer-free since 2019 but continues to undergo scans every four months to ensure the illness remains at bay.
After his ordeal, Matt is now on a mission to encourage everyone to be diligent about skin checks and sun protection.
‘As a teacher and educator, I need people to know that skin cancer can kill you,’ he said.
‘I wasn’t careful enough and I didn’t look after myself.
‘I’m a fair-skinned redhead, I was only ever worried about being sunburnt. Melanoma never even crossed my mind.’
Now, Matt looks at the UV rays index every single day and diligently applies sunscreen.
‘Please protect yourself when you go out,’ he said.
‘If you notice anything on your skin that changes colour, shape, or size – run to the 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: Most deadly form of skin cancer and if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape
Basal cell carcinoma: Most common, least dangerous form of skin cancer. Red, pale or pearly in colour, appears as a lump or dry, scaly area. Grows slowly, usually on areas that are often exposed to the sun
Squamous cell carcinoma: A thickened, red scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate. Grows over some months, usually on areas often exposed to the sun. More likely to occur in people over 50 years of age
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