By Russell Bennett
“It’s like Russian Roulette.”
Steve Goodie summed up perfectly the carefree approach that so many young Australians take in the sun.
He’s been involved as a player, coach or administrator in almost every footy league the Gazette covers.
And now he’s hoping to reach them all with his crucial, potentially life-saving melanoma message.
Steve played more than 400 games across stints at Gembrook Cockatoo and Upwey-Tecoma in the AFL Yarra Ranges competition, EFL powerhouse Vermont, Cora Lynn and ROC and also held a number of coaching and umpiring roles and served as the Brookers’ president for 10 years.
His family’s battle extends far beyond any footy field or netball court, yet the local sporting community is the perfect vessel to spread its message.
Steve’s wife Carolyn, or ‘Caz’ as she was known by most, was the sort of person who makes sporting clubs tick and its people gravitate towards her. When she lost her battle with melanoma in June 2015 aged just 45, the impact was felt throughout the local community.
While Steve was the long-time figurehead or front man of the Brookers, Caz was doing all the tireless work behind the scenes to keep the club moving and did so until just a few short months before she lost her battle – leaving behind Steve, and teenage daughters Alex and Chloe.
And now they’re moving forward with a message that they hope will save lives.
Following on from a concept that started last year, Saturday, 5 August – Round 15 of the AFL Yarra Ranges season – has been renamed the ‘Carolyn Goodie Melanoma Cancer Awareness Round’ and every senior football and netball team across the competition’s two divisions are playing their part to shine a spotlight on the deadly disease.
But this year, a remarkable 70 clubs across the AFL Barwon, AFL Gippsland, and AFL Yarra Ranges regions will be taking part on 5 August. The Goodies’ message is spreading.
“The basis is just the message – getting people to look at their moles,” Steve said.
“I just feel that footy hits that prime target – that 15 to 29-year-old age bracket.
“When people go to the games, I want them asking what the blue and yellow arm bands are for. I want it to be a discussion-starter.
“Even if someone 20 or 25 knows they have got a mole and that they need to keep an eye on it, that’s all it is. It’s a simple discussion.
“It might be raining in August, but as a football supporter or follower, how many times have you got sunburnt during the finals? That’s the danger. You wake up in January and it’s 40 degrees, and you cover up. It’s the danger days before summer that are a real problem. They still cause sunburn.
“If you head out with your kids and it’s 12 degrees in the morning, but it’s a nice sunny day and it ends up being 22 or 23 – you’ll get burnt.
“That’s why late in the season was chosen as the awareness round because we’re trying to kick-start the sun smart message before summer.
“How many people have a hat and sunscreen in the car 24/7? Buy them and leave them in there as a protection mechanism. It’s not that hard.
“My golf clubs are always in the car, for example, so I know I’ve got a hat and I know I’ve got sunscreen. My umpire gear has sunscreen in it too.”
According to the Cancer Council of Victoria, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 while more than 2000 Australians each year will die from it.
Skin cancers account for about 80 per cent of all new cancers diagnosed each year in Australia, and in 2014 the number of Victorians who died from skin cancer amounted to one-and-a-half times the state’s road toll.
“Carolyn had her first melanoma removed 18 years ago, when she was in her late 20s,” Steve said.
“She then had another one removed in 2012. The cancer just popped up – they don’t know why.
“It’s more than a mole. That’s cancerous, but it’s more the secondary cancers that it can cause.
“Look – this isn’t about Caz. It’s about awareness for other people.
“I’ve been involved in footy for 30 years and this is my platform. This is the only way I know how to spread the message, through footy and netball circles.
“Who was Carolyn Goodie? She was the girl next door. She was the mother, the daughter, the person who just happened to marry a football-head. She didn’t have a big name but she was someone who was unlucky enough to marry a footballer and be involved in the community all her life. This really can happen to anyone.”