Family of 8-year-old with melanoma calls on all Australians to step up to help save lives

Family of 8-year-old with melanoma calls on all Australians to step up to help save lives

26 March 2021

Little Hayden Price was just 7-years-old when his parents noticed what they thought was an irritated skin tag on the back of his scalp. The adventurous school boy, who loves swimming and playing with his two older brothers Harry (10) and Hugh (11), began complaining that his goggles and hats were rubbing a sore spot on the back of his head.

His parents Liza and Nathan were shocked when a trip to the GP in Singapore, where they live as part of the Australian expat community, revealed the spot was in fact a melanoma.
Little Hayden underwent surgery to remove the melanoma early last July, just one day after his 8th birthday.

‘We just didn’t think that children as young as Hayden could get melanoma,’ said his mum Liza. ‘It just never crossed our minds that a cancer diagnosis was even possible. Hayden has never been sunburnt in his entire life so we were absolutely stunned and devastated.’

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) Co-Medical Director, Professor Richard Scolyer, who is the world’s leading melanoma pathologist, confirmed the difficult diagnosis. He said whilst melanoma is rare in young children, it does happen, and in Hayden’s case, his melanoma is a sub-type not related to sun exposure.

‘It is a dangerous misconception that melanoma is just an older person’s disease that occurs after decades of sun exposure,’ Professor Scolyer said. ‘Melanoma is in fact the most common cancer in 15 to 39 year old Australians, and whilst rare, we do also see a handful of cases each year in younger children.’

With Hayden’s melanoma already having spread to his lymph nodes, his case was referred to MIA Co-Medical Director and medical oncologist, Professor Georgina Long AO. Professor Long presented Hayden’s case at MIA’s weekly Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting where a cohort of leading clinicians brainstorm and discuss complex cases. A treatment plan was then agreed on with Hayden’s treating oncologist in Singapore.

‘Hayden was immediately started on immunotherapy, a breakthrough treatment which harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells,’ Professor Long said. ‘Had Hayden been born less than a decade earlier, this treatment would not have been available.’

Hayden has so far had 11 infusions of immunotherapy, and has six more to go. His family hopes he will be one of the lucky ones who responds to the treatment. They are anxiously awaiting results of follow up scans to see if the melanoma cells in his little body have been halted, slowed or killed.

‘We feel extremely fortunate that we have amazing specialists treating Hayden, combined with the availability of immunotherapy which was not available prior to 2017,’ Liza said. ‘This gives us tremendous hope for the future.’

The Price family, originally from Brisbane and Lismore, has decided to speak out and share their heartbreaking story to inspire Australians to rally and support research into new melanoma treatments, like the one they are confident will save Hayden’s life.

‘It was a difficult decision to go public with our story as we are in the middle of it, however we wanted to share this important message,’ Hayden’s dad Nathan said. ‘If you have doubts about changes in your child’s skin, including moles, bumps or lesions, please have them checked by a specialist, even in young kids.
‘Research into melanoma is changing lives for many families including ours, so please contribute by purchasing digital footprints supporting the Melanoma March campaign, if you can.’

MIA’s annual fundraising campaign, Melanoma March, is needing to raise $500,000 to support ongoing research focussing on the 50% of advanced melanoma patients who don’t respond to these new treatments. The traditional physical march events were unable to go ahead due to COVID, and were replaced with a digital campaign where people are asked to buy $30 digital footprints which they personalise with messages of hope or support. So far, $150,000 has been raised, leaving a further $350,000 to be raised to meet the target.

Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world with one person diagnosed every 30 minutes. 1,300 Australians are expected to die from the disease this year.

‘Our story is proof that melanoma can and does impact anyone, regardless of age, and it is up to all of us to help support our research teams who are leading global efforts to save lives from this disease,’ Liza added.
‘That’s why we have decided to share our story, so that some good may possibly come from the difficult journey that Hayden and our family are now on.

MIA's Melanoma March campaign has now finished. You can still step up for Hayden by making a donation to support melanoma research here, or hold an Odd Sock Day! 

Odd Sock Day  

Inspired by Hayden and his love of odd socks, the Australian International School in Singapore held an Odd Sock Day to raise funds for melanoma research. Australian schools and workplaces are urged to join them. All Odd Sock Day donations support melanoma research. Please email Annabel at fundraise@melanoma.org.au for more details.  

 

Hayden's Story on 9News 

 

MEDIA - For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Durante |Melanoma Institute Australia | 0412 798 990 | jennifer.durante@melanoma.org.au

Challenges in melanoma clinical research: A snapshot from the Australasian Melanoma Conference 2016
05 Dec 2016

Challenges in melanoma clinical research

The last decade has seen a surge in therapeutic options for advanced melanoma patients, thanks to research. However, not every patient responds to treatment and researchers are taking on the challenge to find out why.

Global Melanoma Research Report
01 Dec 2016

Global Melanoma Research Report

Our first Global Melanoma Research Report shares selected research from around the world and here at MIA that is making a difference to the lives of melanoma patients now and in the future.

Announcement from Melanoma Institute Australia
24 Nov 2016

Announcement from Melanoma Institute Australia

After 18 years as Director of the Sydney Melanoma Unit and then Executive Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor John Thompson AO will step down from the position at the end of 2016.

Nine practice points from the new melanoma guidelines
17 Nov 2016

Nine practice points from the new melanoma guidelines

Australian melanoma clinical practice guidelines have been published on a wiki platform for the first time as researchers try to keep up to date with emerging evidence.  

Melanoma under 40
17 Nov 2016

Melanoma under 40

Carole Renouf, CEO of Melanoma Institute Australia is asking young Australians who have been affected by melanoma to share their experiences with her.

Don't let sunburn be your summer holiday souvenir
11 Nov 2016

Don't let sunburn be your summer holiday souvenir

Melanoma Institute Australia CEO Carole Renouf wants to make sure Aussies remember to take care of our skin as the festive season draws closer and we spend more time in the sun.

Using clinical features to identify patients at high risk for melanoma
10 Nov 2016

Using clinical features to identify patients at high risk for melanoma

Can an individual’s risk factors for melanoma be used to tailor skin self-examinations and surveillance programs?

MIA congratulates Professor Georgina Long
09 Nov 2016

Congratulations to Professor Georgina Long

Prof Georgina Long has been appointed President-Elect Society for Melanoma Research (SMR).

Tags: more news
Uniting our global researchers for melanoma
28 Oct 2016

Uniting our global researchers for melanoma

The Australasian Melanoma Conference is bringing together some of the world's leading researchers and clinicians.

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care go digital
28 Oct 2016

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care go digital

Best practice guidelines for melanoma care have gone digital with the first-ever online guidelines developed to adapt to the rapid change in clinical management.

Awards and honours for our talented researchers
26 Oct 2016

Awards and honours for our talented researchers

Congratulations are in order for two of our talented researchers.

5 Minutes With Prof Richard Scolyer
21 Oct 2016

5 Minutes With Prof Richard Scolyer

Professor Richard Scolyer will be sharing his expertise on melanoma pathology at the upcoming Australasian Melanoma Conference. Here he discusses what he'll be presenting on. 

Research spotlight: High Risk Clinic
10 Oct 2016

Research spotlight: High Risk Clinic

Researchers at MIA have established a High Risk Clinic to monitor people at very high risk of developing melanoma.

Learning from the best in the world
05 Oct 2016

Learning from the best in the world

A generous donation has enabled a medical oncologist from Portugal to learn from the best in the world at MIA.

Uniting the world for a cure
30 Sep 2016

Uniting the world for a cure

MIA is hosting a conference to bring together greats minds in melanoma research that will make a difference to the lives of melanoma patients

A Day in the Life of... Michelle Peranec
30 Sep 2016

A Day in the Life of... Michelle Peranec

Meet Michelle, our Translational Research Officer whose role is to connect the clinics to the lab by ensuring patient blood and tissue samples are documented and carefully stored in our BioSpecimen Bank.

Wildfire Award helps ignite new melanoma research
08 Sep 2016

Wildfire Award helps ignite new melanoma research

Dr James Wilmott says his Wildfire Award will help expand research into treatment options for people with mucosal melanoma, a rare but deadly form of skin cancer.

Opinion: Fighting the Resistance
25 Aug 2016

Opinion: Fighting the Resistance

Following the recent hype around immunotherapies in cancer, CEO Carole Renouf shares the greatest story never told… resistance… and what MIA is doing to address it.

5 Minutes With A/Prof Jennifer Wargo
11 Aug 2016

5 Minutes With A/Prof Jennifer Wargo

A/Prof Wargo discusses the research she will be presenting as a keynote speaker at the upcoming Australasian Melanoma Conference.

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.