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

 

Dr James Wilmott awarded for outstanding cancer research
06 Aug 2016

Dr James Wilmott awarded for outstanding cancer research

Dr James Wilmott has been awarded the Wildfire award at this year's Cancer Institute NSW's Premier Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research.

Community invests in MIA's new trial
19 Jul 2016

Community invests in MIA's new trial

The community has responded generously to our recent appeal to fund a specialised nursing position in an exciting new clinical trial. 

New trial giving options
18 Jul 2016

New trial giving options

We have developed a unique clinical trial that will use existing drugs to target rare genes in melanoma patients.

Melanoma research summary from ASCO
07 Jul 2016

Melanoma research summary from ASCO

Data presented at the recent ASCO Annual Meeting showcased advances in melanoma research, particularly long-term survival data.

Our Privacy Policy has been updated
06 Jul 2016

Updated privacy policy

We value your privacy and want you to be familiar with how we collect, use and disclose your information.

Can cognitive technology assist with melanoma identification?
29 Jun 2016

Can cognitive technology assist with melanoma identification?

Melanoma Institute Australia has partnered with IBM Research in Australia to help further advance melanoma identification using cognitive technology.

'4 Questions With...' Series
24 Jun 2016

'4 Questions With...' Series

CEO Carole Renouf chats to senior clinicians and researchers as part of our "4 Questions With..." short video series. 

Stop the Spread campaign shortlisted
22 Jun 2016

Stop the Spread campaign shortlisted

MIA's 'Stop the Spread' campaign has been shortlisted in the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: the hidden skin cancer
22 Jun 2016

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: the hidden skin cancer

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive skin cancer that is often hard to diagnose.

A meeting of the minds
02 Jun 2016

A meeting of the minds

MIA's doctors are converging on Chicago this week along with 40,000 delegates from around the globe at the biggest oncology conference in the world.

MIA's Dermatology services expanded
27 May 2016

MIA's Dermatology services expanded

We are pleased to announce a recent expansion to the dermatology services at Melanoma Institute Australia.

5 Minutes with Maria Gonzalez
20 May 2016

5 Minutes with Maria Gonzalez

This International Clinical Trials Day we reflect on the importance of clinical trials and the people who dedicate their lives to helping melanoma patients today and in the future.

Melanoma eBook to educate GPs
12 May 2016

Melanoma eBook to educate GPs

MIA has launched its first eBook Melanoma Essentials – A Concise Guide, a resource for GPs and other medical, nursing and allied professionals to help them effectively diagnose and manage cases.

5 Minutes with Dr Scot Ebbinghaus
05 May 2016

5 Minutes with Dr Scot Ebbinghaus

Dr Scot Ebbinghaus chats to us about an exciting clinical trial at MIA and where melanoma treatment is headed in the future.

Opdivo available on PBS for advanced melanoma patients
01 May 2016

Opdivo available on PBS for advanced melanoma patients

A new melanoma treatment has been listed on the PBS today, giving another option for advanced melanoma patients. 

5 Minutes with Dr Louise Jackett
27 Apr 2016

5 Minutes with Dr Louise Jackett

MIA's Pathology Fellow Dr Louise Jackett tells us why she's joined our fellowship program to learn from the best.

MIA patient's plight highlighted in ABC series
27 Apr 2016

MIA patient's plight highlighted in ABC series

MIA doctors and patient have featured in the final episode of ABC’s ground-breaking series Keeping Australia Alive.

Recruiting: Pregnancy and moles study
26 Apr 2016

Recruiting: Pregnancy and moles study

Specialist dermatologists at MIA are researching moles during pregnancy and we are looking for study recruits.

The role of radiotherapy in melanoma
22 Apr 2016

The role of radiotherapy in melanoma

New research is re-writing the textbooks on what we know about melanoma by highlighting the effectiveness of radiotherapy as a treatment, reversing a long-held belief that melanoma was resistant to radiotherapy.

Australian melanoma rates take the silver – and that's good news
31 Mar 2016

Australian melanoma rates take the silver – and that's good news

However, Australia's burden of melanoma will stay very high over the next 15 years unless we do more. MIA's Professor Graham Mann explains.