Leon, a proud father to three beautiful daughters and loving husband to Tamra, knows all too well the heartache of watching a beloved child struggle through the journey of a terminal diagnosis with melanoma.
Leon’s youngest daughter Emma was only 22 years old when she was first diagnosed with melanoma. A stranger telling her to get a mole on her shoulder checked while she was travelling in East Timor was the start of the Betts family’s world turning upside down.
Almost a year after having the primary melanoma removed, Emma discovered a lump and a biopsy confirmed the melanoma had returned. She was immediately booked in for surgery to have the lymph nodes under her arm removed and the application process began to get Emma on a clinical trial for Stage III patients. A post-surgery scan revealed Emma had developed secondary lesions in her liver, meaning she had progressed Stage IV.
“How do you spell love? You don’t spell it, you feel it.” A Winnie the Pooh quote loved by Emma.
Emma began a blog called Dear Melanoma where she not only shared her melanoma journey but also her love of pavlova, family stories, her marriage to husband Serge and the adoption of her beloved dog, Ralph. She also started a small business, Love Emma, creating gifts to send to people going through their own cancer journey.
After losing Emma at the young age of only 25, Leon, as per her wish, took on Dear Melanoma and her advocacy role of spreading the sun-safe message while continuing to raise money for melanoma research. Tamra, Emma’s mum, took on the business Love Emma and supports Leon with keeping Emma’s legacy going.
Leon continues to share Emma’s story, as well as her passion and dedication to continuing the progress she witnessed with treatments so others would not endure the same melanoma journey.
“If Emma’s story doesn’t make you go and get a skin check, I’m not sure what will!” Leon said.