18 April 2024

Weipa man thanks unknown doctor who caught his cancer

| Chisa Hasegawa
Join the conversation
David Mills

Weipa man David Mills is grateful to healthcare staff across Queensland, especially those on Cape York, who got him through a 10-month battle with skin cancer. Photo: Supplied.

When David Mills walked out of the Weipa hospital with a skin cancer diagnosis, he had actually gone in for a completely unrelated issue.

If not for a young doctor that spotted a strange mark on his forehead while waiting, Mr Mills wonders what the outcome might have been.

One year later, he looked back on the young doctor that may have saved his life, and all of the other healthcare professionals that got him through his 10-month battle with cancer.

“I didn’t even get his name, but within a week, I was in Cairns and I had my first operation there,” Mr Mills told Cape York Weekly.

“If he didn’t catch that, it could have been worse.”

From then, Mr Mills’ life consisted of months travelling between Weipa, Cairns and Brisbane for surgeries and radiation – a well-worn track all too familiar for Cape York residents needing serious medical treatment.

Fortunately for him, the experience was the best it could be under the circumstances.

READ ALSO Weipa patient reunites with staff after life-saving scan

“The people that do the remote travel from Weipa, they were all over it and it was like a production line,” he said.

“I know I’m probably one of the lucky ones, but I just feel like they deserve a big shout out, because it involves a lot.”

He spent most of 2023 from March onwards away from the western Cape York township at the Cairns Red Cross accommodation site.

“I had a lot of time with the staff and just sitting around, I didn’t get to spend much time back at home,” Mr Mills said.

“I stayed at other places, but I always preferred to stay in the Red Cross, because the atmosphere was good and you get to run into other people from the Cape as well.”

The trip to Brisbane was worrying for Mr Mills, having hardly ever travelled to the city, but he said the doctors there put him just at ease.

“The young surgeons would even come from the gym at 11 o’clock at night to pop in and check on me and I said ‘doc, you don’t have to check on me, you’re going to see me at seven in the morning’,” he laughed.

“They probably see hundreds or thousands of patients, but they had the time for me.”

In the difficult process of fighting cancer, Mr Mills praised health staff for providing him with a sense of support and relief.

“Even the little things that people forget, like the receptionists, I really want to thank them all,” he said.

“I might’ve had all the best people, but it just stuck out for me; all the negative stuff you hear and I felt like this is a long journey I’ve had, and everywhere I went, arms were open and people were understanding.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.