26 May 2020
Karen was just 35-years-old when melanoma was discovered on her shoulder and in her lymph nodes. Karen underwent surgery to remove the tumours, followed by regular scans to ensure the cancer hadn’t spread.
It was a nervous wait for Karen and her husband Craig after each of her scans, and for 16 months they thought she was in the clear.
All that changed just before last Christmas when her latest scans revealed the devastating news her melanoma had recurred. It was in her lymph nodes, small intestines, and she had 10 tumours in her liver.
In an instant, her life was turned upside down.
“At first I didn’t realise how serious it was - but my husband did. I didn’t want to know the statistics going into treatment as I wanted to remain as positive as I could. I will never forget sitting our little children down and telling them that mummy was very sick. They were only 11, 8 and 4 years old,” Karen recalls.
With the tumours unable to be removed with surgery, she began immunotherapy treatment at Melanoma Institute Australia. After just three rounds of treatment, she got the news she had been longing for. Scans revealed her tumours were shrinking, and she now has no sign of active disease.
Melanoma research and treatment have come so far. But we still have a long way to go. Our focus remains on achieving zero deaths from melanoma - a goal we believe we can reach this decade.
Despite sun-safety and early detection campaigns, particularly relevant during the summer months, melanoma remains the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39-year-olds. One Australian dies from the disease every five hours.
“I know I’ve been very, very lucky. I look at my beautiful children every day and am so thankful for the second chance at life that I’ve been given.”
Karen remains on monthly immunotherapy treatment and 3-monthly scans. She knows the breakthrough treatment saved her life and gave her the chance to see little Max, Mayah and Asher grow up. She wants other melanoma patients and their families to have the same hopes for the future.
“It is frightening to think that less than a decade ago, I would have had no chance of surviving my advanced melanoma. But thanks to research being done at MIA and new treatments now available, our children still have their mum and that means everything to us. Research is saving lives.”
Any life lost to melanoma is one too many. With your support, we will continue our research efforts until we achieve our mission of zero deaths from melanoma, a goal we are now confident we will reach this decade.
Please donate now to help save more lives like Karen's.