Ballantyne helps out with cancer warning
Clinton Heal was just 22 when he woke up one Monday morning in 2005 with a golf ball size lump in the side of his face.
He thought it was probably just a build up of blood or fluid from a knock he’d taken playing for Peel Thunder in the WAFL two days earlier.
It turned out to be a solid mass and, 10 days later it was revealed that he had secondary metastatic melanoma.
He’s since had 34 internal melanoma cancers removed from his body and become founder and CEO of melanomaWA – a community charity partner of the Fremantle Dockers.
Heal was joined at Freo headquarters today by his friend and former teammate at Peel and melanomaWA ambassador Hayden Ballantyne for a series of skin checks conducted by local dermatologist Dr. Kurt Gebauer.
Players Paul Duffield, Nick Suban, Jay van Berlo and Jack Anthony, and Freo coaches and fitness staff had their bodies checked for signs of melanoma by Dr. Gebauer.
Heal played two league games for the Thunder, for two victories in 2005. He came to know Ballantyne there until their lives went in different directions.
Ballantyne remembered back to 2005 when Heal was first diagnosed.
“Clint’s had it tough,” Ballantyne said. “He played 2006 with no hair because of chemotherapy.
“I didn’t understand what he was going through at the time.
“We knew he had a cancer, but now, the more I understand about skin cancer, the more I realise how tough it would have been for him going through the chemo and how hard it would be to play footy while going through that.
“For him to come out on top is awesome.”
Heal said skin cancer could happen to anyone and stressed the importance of awareness when it came to melanomas.
“I had a primary melanoma in my skin while I was playing with Hayden at Peel for two or three years but I didn’t have the awareness and didn’t know it existed,” he said.
“Being sun smart is important, but also being aware of my skin so if any further ones were to come up I could get onto them sooner rather than later.
“I went through a tough journey and one I want to promote through the community and I’m very happy to be involved with the Fremantle Football Club and with Hayden as the melanomaWA ambassador.”
Whether it was fighting to make it into the league side at Peel Thunder, or his battle against Melanoma, Heal’s motto has always been perseverance.
“You can either give up, or try to be pro-active,” he said.
“I took that path and wanted to do everything I could to be able to live well with cancer. I still play footy. I still surf and do all the things that are important to me.
“As long as you have a good support crew around you, you can get through anything.”
Heal has already proven he won’t let anything get in the way of his passion – footy.
In 2009 he was playing in the Peel Football League for South Mandurah.
With a finals campaign set to begin, he had a scan at the start of August which revealed six melanoma cancers in the lining of his heart.
Just two weeks and three days after having a major operation, Heal managed to get out and play the grand final.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be out of hospital to be honest,” he said.
“We lost by 10 points to Waroona. I kicked three goals so it felt like I did my bit.”
Heal remembers being struck by the dedication a young Hayden Ballantyne displayed as a colt down at Peel.
“He was always down there early getting himself ready for the season,” Heal said.
“A lot of the other young guys at that age were more interested in being down at the beach whereas he was always down at the track before he needed to be.”
For more information on melanomas, visit melanomaWA’s website.