Our Fight for Sarah
By Kelly Jones
17 February 2016
We have a special team marching in our Brisbane Melanoma March this year called Our Fight For Sarah and For All. Last year Kelly, her family and friends walked proudly alongside Sarah, Kelly’s sister. However, this year they will be walking in honour of Sarah, who sadly passed away in June after a 17-month battle with melanoma.
Here is Sarah’s story written by Kelly:
Our fight for Sarah started in January 2014 when our beautiful 26-year old sister was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. Sarah had a mole, a "beauty spot" as we called it, in her hairline that had been there since she was a baby that never bothered her or caused any problems.
In February 2014 Sarah underwent a massive 8-hr operation to remove the cancer that had spread so rapidly from her temple down to her collarbone without any signs or symptoms. She then had radiation to the affected area in hope that it would be the end of it.
Six months later Sarah had a follow-up scan. Sarah kept positive after having no signs or symptoms, however the results were not what we had expected to hear: They had found multiple spots on her brain. It had now turned to stage 4 and the outlook on life was only a matter of a few months.
It was the most horrible and heartbreaking news my family and I had ever had to deal with.
Sarah was asked to start on a clinical trial for stage 4 patients. We hoped that it would give better quality of life, more time with her family and friends, and more time for a cure to be discovered.
Her next scan was 6 weeks after starting the trial. To the doctors, and our, surprise it revealed shrinkage of a couple of spots and a couple of spots had disappeared.
This was amazing news.
We knew this was not a cure but it meant more time with Sarah and gave us hope. She continued with the treatment hoping for even better results on the next scan.
Sarah’s scan was booked for the week before Christmas with results due back Christmas Eve. This time the results weren't good. The lesions on her brain had grown and new lesions had appeared.
Sarah then had to go off the chemo and wait for the chemo to be completely out of her system before starting another clinical trial – one that had been funded from the efforts of Melanoma March 2014.
Sarah started treatment in March 2015, by this point symptoms had started to appear. This drug was not working for her.
Sadly Sarah did lose her fight on the 13 June 2015, 17 months after being diagnosed. She put up a fight like no other. Sarah's fight, strength and ability to get on with things was amazing. She was always laughing, singing and smiling.
These trials did not cure her or give us the time that we wanted, but it did give us some time.
This is why we are marching again this year – we want to make sure that other families don’t go through what we have. Our job is to continue Sarah’s wish of helping others by donating to organisations that have helped her, including Melanoma Institute Australia. We want to be part of raising money for much-needed research.