Paul and Natalie's Story

Paul and Natalie's Story

28 April 2016

Three years ago, MIA volunteer Paul Watts lost his wife, Natalie, to melanoma. The 29-year-old was a much-loved MIA patient well known to many of our clinicians and support staff.

Sitting alongside Natalie for many of her appointments, Paul was impressed by the passion and dedication of the doctors and nurses at MIA, who often went above and beyond their duties. This dedication inspired him to volunteer his time and expertise at MIA.

“I felt like I could never repay all that the Institute did for Nat,” says Paul. “The effort that everyone put in to looking after her and the genuine care that they showed was critically important to us both.”

Natalie was diagnosed with melanoma when she was only 15 years old and had surgery to remove the mole. But 11 years later, a lump appeared in her groin, followed by spots in her lungs, brain and spine. Natalie's life was extended by an additional 1.5 years after being treated with a BRAF inhibitor and participating in an MIA-led clinical trial on whole brain radiotherapy. However, the disease progressed and less than a year after she married Paul, she lost her fight with melanoma. 

“The clinical trials team were amazing. The care, the counselling and the support – in addition to their nursing expertise – was absolutely essential,” Paul says.

Only 6 months after Natalie passed away, MIA started the anti-PD-1 neurological trial that was funded by money raised from Melanoma March 2014. Paul desperately wishes that Natalie could have been on that trial, as it may have bought him more time with his wife.

“Extension of life is the most important thing for a patient,” Paul says. “These new drugs can make such a huge difference; not just to the patient but to the loved-ones that get left behind.”

A project manager by trade, Paul has played a key role in organising our Manly Melanoma March this year.

“I’m giving back by providing my time and skills to help MIA raise money that will ultimately help the researchers find a cure. If I can help patients, and stop their families from going through what I’ve gone through, it’ll all be worth it.”