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Clare Oliver

In just 48 hours Clare Oliver achieved what years of campaigns had been attempting to – she put skin cancer into the forefront of people's minds.

Honour Roll

"Clare would be very proud of the fact that government responded to her call and more importantly people are changing behaviours" - Anne Rahilly, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Her bravery and determination, at a time when she was desperately ill, has led to legislative and behavioural change that will undoubtedly save many lives. In 2004, Clare was diagnosed with cancer. She was 22, had just finished a Bachelor of Media and Communication and a Masters of Cinema at the University of Melbourne, and had begun work as a sports journalist.

Clare underwent treatment but the cancer returned in 2005. Radiotherapy followed, and she was cancer-free for 19 months before she found a lump in her neck. Doctors found more tumours and could provide no further treatment. It was then that Clare decided she needed to share her story and warn others of the risks associated with sunbaking and using solaria.

Anne Rahilly from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre worked with Clare, and was struck by her strength, determination and energy.

"She genuinely believed her story was worth telling. She was totally committed to doing that. Clare said: 'I need to tell people this. Don't let this happen to you'. That is the legacy she has left us with."

Just weeks before she died, Clare wrote: "I have never been one to keep my silence about anything I have felt passionate about."

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre established a collaborative group including the Alfred and Austin hospitals to continue the public awareness campaign begun by Clare - the Clare Oliver Melanoma Fund. Proceeds are directed to the Melanoma Research Project to increase the knowledge about melanoma by combining medical and laboratory research to fund a national advertising campaign about the dangers of solarium use.

In December 2007, three months after Clare's death, the State Government announced tightened regulations for solaria, including compulsory licensing and mandatory displays of health warnings about the risks of skin cancer. In February 2009, state legislation banned under-18s from using solaria.

Clare's courage instigated a dramatic reduction in the use of solaria. In 2007 a Cancer Council Victoria study showed a 500% increase in solarium facilities in Melbourne in the previous decade but since Clare's campaign their numbers have continued to fall.