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 email@example.com for more details.
Hayden's Story on 9News
MEDIA - For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Durante |Melanoma Institute Australia | 0412 798 990 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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