In 2015 at the age of 20, a small lump on my scalp that made brushing my hair infuriating, was surgically removed and, unsuspectingly, I was diagnosed with Melanoma. Fast forward 2 years, what we thought was something never to return, was in fact the beginning of an extremely difficult journey with Metastatic Melanoma. The once external melanoma had managed to find its way to my lymph nodes in my head and neck.
In the hope of stopping the cancer in its tracks, over the past year, I have received 4 surgeries to my head and neck, one being a stage IV neck dissection to remove 49 lymph nodes and my salivary gland, 4 weeks of radiotherapy and endured 3 different immunotherapy drugs. Unfortunately, in August of this year, it was to my family and I's disbelief, my routine 3 monthly PET scan showed the cancer has made its way to my lungs. The most effective treatment available for Metastatic Melanoma, was not working on me.
As I have just undergone an additional 3 weeks of radiotherapy, this time to my lungs, it has only accentuated the need for further research dedicated to curing Melanoma. Whilst researchers have made a major breakthrough for some advanced melanoma patients, many are not responding to new treatments, like myself. I don’t know what the next few months will incur in terms of disease progression or further treatment, but what I do know is - I will do my best to play my part in preventing others having to endure what I have had to by raising funds for research dedicated to treating and preventing melanoma. No one ever expects their life to be flipped upside down by cancer, especially at the age of 20. With melanoma being the most prevalent cancer in young Australians, it is crucial I share my story and use it raise awareness and funds for melanoma research, to prevent the people around me having to fight a battle no one should ever have to.