"Research saved my life!"

"Research saved my life!"

5 October 2017

A former NSW Police Detective, Ian was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma in April 2016 at 46 years of age.

Scans revealed an eyeball-size tumour in the back of his brain, the part that controls balance, as well as his lungs, lymph system and abdomen. He was riddled with around 30 tumours, the biggest of which sat on top of his left lung at 62 mm.

“Even my tonsils had cancer!” Ian recalls.

His primary melanoma has never been found. Ian was given a very poor outlook; it didn’t look good for the father of three and as he puts it ‘dad to a Brady Bunch of five kids’.

Fast forward to now with 18 pembrolizumab (Keytruda) treatments behind him and incredibly, all his tumours have gone. 

“I have some scarring on my left lung, but that's it!” he says. “I even got to turn 48 a couple of months ago. It looks like my own immune system has now learnt to fight the melanoma itself.”

Ian was treated at the Newcastle Melanoma Unit and credits them for his recovery.

“They have been incredible in saving my life. I cannot thank them enough,” says Ian.

Ian now has a new lease on life that has changed his outlook.

“I don’t want to sound cliché because it’s all been said before but I have too much life to live and too many kids to raise!” he says.

“At the end of the day, it is research that has saved my life without any doubt.”

He is passionate about supporting research into melanoma, specifically immunotherapy, as it has given him his life back. Melanoma Institute Australia is actively investigating immunotherapy as a treatment for patients. One area of interest is trying to understand why some patients respond so well to immunotherapy whereas others do not. Other research is looking at giving immunotherapy to Stage III patients to prevent them from ever progressing to Stage IV melanoma.

Ian also recently shared his story with the melanoma support group that meets regularly at Melanoma Institute Australia in Sydney. 

“I really want to promote immunotherapy in all its forms and advocate for whatever assistance is available to support further research from all experts into its amazing potential,” says Ian. “I'm a walking example of what it can do and one day it will help everyone."