AFTER losing her sister to internal melanoma less than three months ago, Naracoorte local Julie Thomson is focussed on helping others with the same disease.
She is seeking the support of the community to raise funds for the Melanoma Institute Australia ahead of a special event this weekend.
Her sister Sandy, who lived in Adelaide and worked as a teacher and educator, was diagnosed with melanoma not long before she lost her battle with the disease on New Year's Eve.
"It was devastating and quick," Julie told the Herald.
"She had no skin lesions, it went internally. She had cancer through her ovaries, uterus and a tumour wrapped around her small intestine.
"She was a vibrant, energetic 60-year-old who was working full-time but she looked like an old lady towards the end."
Julie is gearing up to lead a group of friends and family on a fundraising walk in Adelaide this Sunday - the Melanoma March.
It starts at Henley Square and participants will walk to the Grange Jetty and back again.
It may only be 4km long, but for those who aren't well it won't be easy.
"It's very exciting," Julie said.
"We have quite a few in our team 'SUNDAY 4 SANDY'. We're the top fundraiser at the moment."
The group has managed to collect over $3000 so far but is still seeking more donations from businesses and individuals.
"It is something I am really putting a lot of energy into to make it a success," Julie said.
"It is a very quick and a very cruel disease which can get anyone.
"My sister was really healthy - she wasn't a smoker, or a heavy drinker, she had a healthy diet...it can strike anybody at any age, of any gender."
Julie has also been involved in Relay for Life to raise much-needed funds for breast cancer research after she lost both her mother (aged 41) and her sister (aged 51) to the disease.
Another motivation to do the Melanoma March was for the sake of her niece, Sandy's daughter.
"She wasn't coping very well with grieving, this was the first major grief she had experienced, so I thought it might help her do something positive in memory of her mum."
All money collected will go towards vital research into the disease which has no known cure.
Donations can be made via the charity tin placed at Naracoorte Tyrepower or online - visit melanomamarch.org.au, click on "Find a Fundraiser" or "Sponsor a Friend", type in the team name "SUNDAY 4 SANDY" which will bring up the team list, and click on "Julie" to donate.
By giving this way people can choose to remain anonymous and can receive a receipt via email.
According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world and it is often identifiable at a stage when simple treatment can result in complete cure.