15 December 2014
Trish’s story is one of courage. An incredibly inspiring woman, Trish touched many people along her journey.
In 2009, Trish had a melanoma removed from her shoulder. Her sentinel nodes came back clear and she was told by her doctor to make it through the next five years to be sure.
However, four years later Trish was diagnosed with advanced melanoma, and only a few months later, she found out she had brain metastases – a very poor prognosis.
“I was given advice by a doctor who told me that I was a strong person, and that I needed to stay strong as a legacy for my family,” Trish remembers. “This really resonated with me and it was then that I decided to continue being the strong person I am. Cancer has come into my life, but it needn’t change who I am.”
By July 2013, Trish was bleeding from the bowel, anaemic, her brain metastases were growing and she was getting more and more sick. She was tested for all the routine genetic tests but the results came back negative, giving her very little hope and treatment options.
Fortunately her oncologist, MIA’s Associate Professor Georgina Long, was involved in an international research collaboration that meant she had access to genetic testing that is not typically done. The results revealed an unusual genetic anomaly – a BRAF translocation – which meant that Trish was suitable for treatment with a drug called a MEK inhibitor. She was the first patient in the world to receive this treatment which led to a 70% reduction in her tumours.
Trish then became stabilised enough to receive PD-1 treatment and was the first person in Australia to receive the injection through the Compassionate Care program.
For more than 18 months, Trish livied each day with an inspiring sense of hope and a contagious spirit for life.
“This experience has made me the best person I can be,” said Trish. “I’ve cut out all the noise, stayed close to my friends, and I don’t waste energy on people who don’t deserve it.”
Throughout her journey, Trish always remained positive and had an incredible support team.
“Surround yourself with positive people and be totally honest with yourself to know your weaknesses. I handpicked people to give me permission to ‘call me out’ to tell me when to lift my game. That has been a really powerful exercise for me.”
It is with a heavy heart that we report that Trish passed away on 12 December 2014. Her beautiful spirit, kindness and passion for spreading awareness of melanoma has touched us all.