David Day and a lifetime of missed moments

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments

8 June 2018

“I couldn’t eat. Barely slept. I was the one to tell Dave it was all over. All Dave said was ‘my poor, poor babies’.”  Jenny, David’s wife.

When David lost his life last year, he was 33, with three daughters under six.

David Day was one of the 20% of people with advanced melanoma have primary resistance to new drugs with ‘super progression' and we need to find out why. 

The greatest challenge our clinicians currently face in treating melanoma is ‘super progression’.

Amid all our success stories, there is still a group of people with advanced melanoma for whom absolutely nothing works. About 20% of patients our medical oncologists see with advanced melanoma fall into this category.

Super progressors do not respond to existing treatments. Within a few short months, their disease progresses aggressively and relentlessly and we cannot save them.

David Day, was one such patient —a lovely young father with a wonderful family — who died last year.

The most agonising thing about patients like David is that at present, we just don’t know why they super progress.

Dr Inês Silva was part of the clinical team which treated David Day. She was studying at MIA as a Medical Oncology Fellow from Portugal. David had such a profound impact on Inês, that on completion of her Fellowship, she decided to stay on at MIA as a Research Scientist in an all-out attempt to find answers for super progressors.

Inês and the MIA research team collected blood and melanoma tissue samples from David during his treatment. They also collected similar samples from other advanced melanoma patients who have not responded to immunotherapy.

By studying the genomic profile and protein expression in each of these patients’ tumours, Ines and the MIA research team hope to understand why each drug failed to work, paving the way for new, and potentially life-saving therapies.

While there is some existing grant funding to cover her salary, a dedicated Research Scientist like Inês can’t do it alone.

We are relying on you and on the support of our donor community to collectively fund this research project including research assistants’ salaries, PhD student scholarship top-ups, equipment, and state-of-the-art research technologies such as DNA, RNA and cell sequencing. All are key to understanding and solving primary resistance and super progression.

David was a sweet, humble family man. He was a high-achiever, had forged an exceptional career as a computer engineer for Google and made a loving, happy life raising his three daughters Charlotte, 7, Emma, 5, and Annie, now 1, with his wife Jenny, his childhood sweetheart since Year 9.

Just before Christmas 2016, with Jenny heavily pregnant with little Annie, Dave found a lump under his left arm. He had Stage III melanoma. Half way through his treatment, David found another lump under his arm and a new tumour was discovered on his left hip. His melanoma had progressed to Stage IV.

In March 2017, David and Jenny were referred to Melanoma Institute Australia. He started on a clinical trial and at first, his scans looked promising.

After starting treatment, another painful melanoma appeared on David’s wrist. In the next three months, tumours sprang up in his spleen, lungs, pancreas, bones, under his skin —  with up to 30 more in his liver. Even though immune cells were present, David was super progressing.

As the months passed, David suffered extreme pain, liver damage, rapid weight loss, blurred vision and internal bleeding. The clinical team switched to chemotherapy as a last resort and Annie’s christening was pushed forward.

On 25 August 2017, Jenny had the worst imaginable task of explaining to her soul mate that nothing more could be done for him.

“I was the one to tell him it was over. All he could say was “My poor, poor babies”. My heart ached. I had lost 15kg over the past five months from the stress of the whole situation. My milk dried up and I couldn’t feed Annie. It ate away at me while I put on a brave face for Dave and the kids,” says Jenny.

Jenny has very generously shared her painful story in the hope that it will help raise funds to crack the riddle of super progression. 

Please give today to save someone you know from the ravages of melanoma in the future, and give them what David didn’t have- the opportunity to enjoy a lifetime of special moments with their loved ones.

Donate now

 

Monthly dose of immunotherapy allows flexibility for patients undergoing treatment
11 Oct 2018

Monthly dose of immunotherapy allows flexibility for patients undergoing treatment

A larger, monthly dose of immunotherapy can give melanoma patients more freedom without sacrificing effectiveness.

Australia's best minds in melanoma research converge on Melbourne
08 Oct 2018

Australia's best minds in melanoma research converge on Melbourne

The Australasian Melanoma Conference, hosted by the Australasian Melanoma Conference Committee, was held in Melbourne on the weekend, with many of MIA's clinicians in attendance.

Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies
04 Oct 2018

Nobel Prize for novel cancer therapies

The two men who discovered checkpoint inhibitors, the brakes of the immune system, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday, October 1.

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours
31 Aug 2018

World Health Organisation launches 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is releasing the 4th edition of Classification of Skin Tumours.

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal
31 Aug 2018

Professor John Thompson awarded prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal

Former Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia Professor John Thompson awarded the prestigious 2018 RPA Foundation Research Medal.

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab
23 Aug 2018

Support PBS listing for pembrolizumab

Clinicians, patients and other stakeholders in the cancer community are invited to make submissions in support of the PBS listing for pembrolizumab.

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018
17 Aug 2018

World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018

The World Congress on Cancers of the Skin 2018 has featured many minds from MIA sharing their expertise and wealth of knowledge with over 1000 attendees from around the world.

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne
09 Aug 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia welcomes new CEO Matthew Browne

Melanoma Institute Australia is delighted to announce the appointment of Matthew Browne as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference
26 Jul 2018

Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference

It was a full house this week at Melanoma Institute Australia thanks to our ‘Melanoma in Practice: Nurse Conference’. 

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults
19 Jul 2018

Reducing the risk of melanoma in young adults

A new study from The University of Sydney shows that sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent when used from a young age.

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal
20 Jun 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia launches free e-learning education portal

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) has launched a free e-learning portal to educate healthcare professionals about the latest advances in melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments
08 Jun 2018

David Day and a lifetime of missed moments

When David lost his life last year, he was 33, with three daughters under six.

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists
06 Jun 2018

Australian melanoma experts share latest breakthroughs with world's best oncologists

ASCO 2018 brings together the world's best in oncology from around the world. 

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials
06 Jun 2018

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials

Clinical trials are just that – trials in a clinical setting to evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of individual and combination treatments.

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology
04 Jun 2018

MIA Scoops Awards at the International Academy of Pathology

Melanoma Institute Australia scooped the award pool at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Academy of Pathology. 

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma
25 May 2018

Updated Clinical Guidelines for Melanoma

Melanoma patients across Australia will benefit from the release of updated clinical care guidelines.

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study
11 May 2018

Melanoma and Marital Status: A Study

An American study has discovered a link between early detection and marital status in melanoma diagnosis. 

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...
02 May 2018

A weekend in Paris talking all things pathology...

An international course on melanoma pathology in Paris, France co-directed by Professor Richard Scolyer took place over the weekend.

Our own 'Australian Story'
30 Apr 2018

Our own 'Australian Story'

Professor Richard Scolyer highlights the difficulties of diagnosis following the Australian Story feature program on Emma Betts. 

Cancer Australia releases 'stage at diagnosis' data for top five incidence cancers – including melanoma
27 Apr 2018

Cancer Australia releases 'stage at diagnosis' data for top five incidence cancers – including melanoma

For the first time in Australia, national data has been released on cancer stage at diagnosis. This data explores the top five incidence cancers – female breast cancer, colorectal, lung, prostate cancers and melanoma.