CAVENDISH farmer Karl Price will never forget his 35th birthday.
On that day in 2010, Karl had surgery to remove a cancerous lump in his neck.
He had found it less than three weeks earlier while working on his family's 1000ha sheep and cropping farm.
His Hamilton GP suspected a swollen gland or a cyst. But tests revealed the lump contained traces of melanoma.
Karl's doctor already had organised appointments at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. When the lump was removed the next week, it had grown so big that Karl could not shave over it.
"I always wore sunscreen and a big hat and I didn't walk around in a singlet and shorts, so it can happen to anyone," he said.
"It ended up being a stage 3 (melanoma), it was 2 1/2 cm in diameter and, thankfully, it was in only one lymph node."
Karl then endured a year of drug treatment, which gave him headaches, mood swings and meant he spent up to 18 hours a day sleeping.
"My father works on the farm and we have a full-time worker, but we got extra help in to do crutching and mulesing, things we usually do ourselves," he said.
Karl said his energy levels were now back to normal after finishing treatment in November. "But it's changed the way we do things," he said.
"We've got a canopy over the four-wheeler, and if it's a stinking hot day you do office work."
Karl's wife, Bryony, said he also "makes more time to do those little things with the kids" - Zachary, 9, Samuel, 5, and twins Talia and Fletcher, 2.
"He's realised that all the jobs on the farm don't have to be finished yesterday," Bryony said.
Despite Karl being diagnosed with melanoma, the primary source of the cancer - a mole or freckle - was never found.
"The doctors said there could have been a mole there originally that popped up and went away," Karl said.
His message to the rural community is simple - "protect yourself and, if you feel something different, see someone about it".