Clinton Heal (2014)
In 2005, Clinton Heal faced an unimaginable challenge when he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma at the age of 22. Since then, he has had 35 tumors removed and has come to exemplify a journey of both personal resilience and community service that is remarkable, by any measure.
From the outset, Clinton has been proactive in managing a life-threatening disease. After his diagnosis, he kept up with work and sporting activities and generally operated in a way that would ensure he continued with his life – as a young man with strong sporting links and as a respected professional in the medical imaging department at the Peel Health Campus.
However, Clinton also realised there was little in place in Western Australia at the time in terms of resources or support and advice, both for someone receiving a diagnosis of melanoma, and for their circle of support.
Clinton’s response to this was one of focused and effective action and in 2008 he established the not-for-profit organisation melanomaWA. His vision was to help those in the community diagnosed with melanoma to receive immediate access to the information and support they needed to improve their prognosis. Shortly thereafter, his vision broadened to include the provision of support to family, friends and carers.
More recently, he has extended melanomaWA again to provide informed advice and education to the broader community. It is estimated that since his first presentation was made at the Pluto LNG Project in Karratha in 2009, an audience of 20,000 has been reached.
There is little doubt that Clinton’s leadership is the absolute driving force behind melanomaWA – both when it was established and in its continued strength as a vibrant and progressive organisation today. With a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Science and an MBA – both from Curtin University – Clinton has combined education and personal experience to emerge as one of the State’s most capable and inspiring young leaders.
This was recognised when he was awarded the 2011 Western Australia Young Australian of the Year – and when he was named a 2011 40under40 Award winner.
It is important to see these achievements in light of the significant courage and determination that Clinton has needed to manage his own physical and emotional wellbeing over the past nine years. This, in itself, can be considered a ‘full time job’ for someone with such a challenging diagnosis.
Viewed in this way, his extraordinary commitment and generosity towards helping others becomes truly evident. Indeed, he has won considerable respect and admiration over the years, with any number of people attesting to his selfless and inspirational achievements.
Clinton Heal’s journey as advocate, leader and visionary has raised awareness about melanoma across Western Australia and has had an impact on thousands of lives. He is a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal for 2014.