Queensland woman Gina Savage has died at the age of 28 after a years-long battle with melanoma.
“We are deeply, deeply saddened to share the news that we lost our gorgeous light, Gina, on Monday 12 June after an eight year battle with melanoma,” the post read.
“She was the beloved daughter of her parents, Zoe and Joe, the much loved sister of her big brother, Jack, and adored partner of Tom. She will be deeply missed by so many of her friends, and a huge hole has been left in all of our lives.
“Gina lived every day to the fullest, and truly squeezed every minute out of life, all while remaining a true advocate for melanoma prevention and awareness, after being diagnosed with the insidious disease at just 20 years old. She was dedicated to raising funds and awareness for those facing the same fight as her, or those that might still have it ahead of them.
“There are no words to describe this insurmountable loss in all of our lives and the lives of her enormous circle of family and friends.
“We will love you forever G, and not a day will go by where we don’t think of you.”
Savage was diagnosed with melanoma in 2015 after noticing a small lump on her scalp that would consistently bleed.
Doctors informed the then-20-year-old that she had incurable metastatic melanoma and was given just six months to live.
The Brisbane woman ultimately endured countless surgeries – including the removal of 60 lymph nodes, 17 melanoma tumours, and both her ovaries – and battled the disease for almost a decade.
She started The Six Hour Project to raise awareness around the deadly cancer, from which one Australian dies every six hours. All funds raised by the organisation were donated to melanoma research at the Mater Hospital.
According to current statistics from the Cancer Council, two in three Aussies are predicted to be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70 – yet research this year from life insurer TAL found that 63 per cent of the population have not had a skin check in the last 12 months, and 30 per cent have never had one.
Mater Foundation CEO Andrew Thomas described Savage as an inspiration, telling The Courier-Mail his team were devastated by her death.
“Despite being diagnosed with melanoma at the age [of] 20, Gina turned her heart-wrenching personal battle into an inspiring movement for change,” Mr Thomas said.
“The incredible advocacy she had in terms of being ‘cancer aware’ has made a huge impact on melanoma awareness, research and treatment.
“Gina raised more than $500,000 by sharing her personal story, and was the face of many Mater Foundation fundraising campaigns.”
Melanoma Institute Australia also paid tribute to Savage, writing on social media it was “so saddened to hear of Gina’s passing”.
“She certainly was a bright light and we are so grateful for everything she did to drive melanoma awareness and raise research funds,” the Institute’s post read.
“Gina’s legacy will continue and we are inspired to double our efforts to reach zero deaths from melanoma.”
Savage told The Courier-Mail last June she hoped sharing her story would help find a cure for the 50 per cent of melanoma patients whose cancer was not responding to available treatments.
“Just that one person who messages saying ‘I’ve had my skin checked because of you’ – I think that gives me a bit of purpose and that empowers me to keep sharing my story,” she said.
“When I first started doing this years ago, it was actually one person [dying] every five hours.
“We are hoping to make that statistic redundant altogether.”
A memorial for Savage will be held at the Pleasuredome at Brisbane Powerhouse on June 22.
Originally published as Queensland melanoma advocate Gina Savage dies aged 28