Margaret River couple undergo new radiation therapy for skin cancer

Margaret River couple Robert and Diane Conneeley are feeling blessed about life after receiving a new radiation therapy in Bunbury.

To say Mr Conneeley has spent a life on the beach would be an understatement, with him saying he would spend hours by and in the ocean from the age of two.

Building his first surfboard at 11 years of age, Mr Conneeley became a pioneer of surfing in Australia and earnt himself a junior world surfing championship title.

Now 73 years old Mr Conneeley has been fighting non-melonoma skin cancer for 35 years, undergoing treatments and surgery.

He was left fighting for his life when the cancer spread throughout his body, requiring surgery to a dozen lesions in his neck and leaving him with a scar stretching from ear to ear.

Recently, Mr Conneeley's doctor at the Busselton skin cancer clinic referred him to GenesisCare in Bunbury, which offers Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy.

The therapy is an innovative technique in modern radiation used to treat non-melonoma skin cancer.

The therapy is personalised to the individual, conforming to curved surfaces to protect critical organs, delivering the best possible outcomes for patients.

Mr Conneeley said he did not have severe symptoms from the radiation, and the staff at the clinic were always good at boosting morale.

To add an extra challenge to Mr Conneeley's life, his childhood sweetheart and wife Diane also got the same cancer but on her nose.

"I got skin cancer from surfing and she got it from watching me surf," he said.

The clinic were able to tailor their treatments so they could stay together.

"We made it a daily picnic adventure where we would pack our lunch and stop off at different places along the way," Mr Conneeley said.

They have both seen really good results from the treatment.

"The huge scar across my neck resulting from major surgery for my cancer not only looks confronting, but it also prevented me from paddling on my surfboard," he said.

"Having the option to avoid further disfiguring scars to my face by treating a cancer on my temple with the therapy, was very welcomed.

"Di's skin cancer on her nose came up really well thanks to the therapy, giving her a non-invasive option to avoid potentially obvious scarring from surgical treatment."

Mr Conneeley's advice to people who love being outside in the sun is to wear a wide brim hat and a long sleeve cotton shirt.

"When I was younger the baseball cap was fashionable and I thought I would be fine because it covered my face, but it only covered the front of my face," he said.

GenisisCare radiation oncologist Dr Kasri Rahim said the Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy was introduced in 2008 but it wasn't until 2018 that it was discovered that it could be used for skin.

He said originally the technique was only used on internal organs and GenesisCare pioneered its ability to treat skin cancers.

While it is a new technology, the success rate of people living without cancer for a couple of years has been around 95 per cent, Dr Rahim said.

The treatment is covered by medicare, allowing patients to undergo the therapy without worry of cost.