Jay Allen is undertaking the Longest Melanoma March to raise money to find a cure for cancer.
Jay Allen is undertaking the Longest Melanoma March to raise money to find a cure for cancer. Contributed

Melanoma marathon to raise money against deadly disease

A FORMER truck driver, who has battled melanoma and won, is taking on perhaps his biggest challenge yet in a bid to save others from the deadly disease.

Melanoma Institute Australia Community Coordinator Jay Allen has embarked on The Longest Melanoma March from Brisbane to Sydney from March 5 to April 2.

With up to three co-walkers by his side at any one time, he will walk 1200 kilometres in 29 days and aims to raise awareness and $250,000 for melanoma research.

"This will undoubtedly push me to the limits physically, but every step I take will be in memory of those who have died from melanoma and those who are currently fighting this disease," Jay said.

Jay was just 32 when he was diagnosed with melanoma. He was your typical Aussie bloke: a husband, dad, son and mate to many. Overnight he went from being a truck driver to a cancer patient. It was a diagnosis that changed his life.

"I just never thought it would happen to me," Jay said. "I had a mole on my ankle that looked unusual and kept rubbing on my work boots and bleeding. My wife persisted that I get it checked, and luckily I took her advice. It turned out to be a melanoma which was 1.95mm deep and had spread to my lymph nodes."

Jay underwent immediate surgery and treatment. Eight years on he is fighting fit and is now fighting for another cause: to help raise awareness and find a cure for melanoma, which is the number one cancer killer of Australians aged 20-39.

In his role as Community Coordinator with Melanoma Institute Australia, Jay devotes much of his time talking to school and community groups about sun-safe behaviours and the importance of early detection.

"I had no idea how deadly melanoma could be. My diagnosis was life changing for me and my family.

I'm lucky to be alive, so now it's time to give back," Jay said.

Every dollar raised on Jay's walk will help Melanoma Institute Australia fund vital research to find a cure for melanoma.

"Please dig deep for this great cause and help change the future for thousands of Australians diagnosed with melanoma each year," Jay said.

"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Let's work together to end melanoma."

The Longest Melanoma March started in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on March 5 and will end in Sydney at Barangaroo on April 2.

To support Jay's fundraising effort, visit https://thelongestmelanomamarch.gofundraise.com.au/

Jay's trek is part of Melanoma Institute Australia's Melanoma March campaign, with 17 community events to be held around Australia during March and early April. Participants will walk or march along a short course, and will be able to track their progress online using a new Fitbit integration on their fundraising page.

For those who can't make it to a march, they can set their own personal challenge or activity to get moving any way they like as part of Move for Melanoma.

Participants can register at melanomamarch.org.au and join the Melanoma March community on Facebook @MelanomaMarch.

The Longest Melanoma March Dates & Locations 2017

Fri 10/03/2017 Ballina to Little Italy

Sat 11/03/2017 Little Italy to Maclean

Sun 12/03/2017 Maclean to Grafton

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