Trials beat the alternative

Wednesday 11 September, 2013 by Annabelle

My Cancer story started on the 21st March 2011 when I found a lump in my breast. It was removed and I remember that phone call from the Breast Clinic to advise me that the lump was malignant. I needed further testing so I was referred for a PED scan. The results came back positive and I was advised that I had terminal stage 4 metastatic melanoma cancer, and that I had 11 months to live as the disease had spread to my lymph nodes. 

Everyone kept asking where the primary melanoma was, but there was no primary melanoma evident when I received my diagnosis. I was given a few options: one was 11 months to live and the other option was a new trial drug. 

I was hesitant, as you can imagine, but with a beautiful family and two young children I had to fight with every ounce of my body. I started a trial in July 2011 and it's had its ups and downs. I started having severe side effects and low potassium levels so they had to monitor my dosage and change it around quite a few times. The purpose of this drug was to shrink the 13 tumors that I have all around my body, and it has.

I am now stable, however I had a set back on July 2013. I had a tumour that had become mutant and was growing again behind my trachea. The concern was that it would grow to block my wind pipe and cause me to suffocate, so on the 18th July this year I had this particular tumour removed  and cannot thank the doctor enough for the procedure.

Even though my cancer is not curable my tumours have been reduced from 13 to 11. I am currently still tender as my lung had to be de compressed and inflated after the procedure and it took a lot longer than anticipated. There was a lot of internal bruising which is still healing. I had a CT scan last week and all of the other tumours are stable at the moment.

I have a monthly appointment to see the trial nurses and registrar doctor and have a CT scan every 3 months. It's been an absolute roller coaster. I work full-time as a director of a child care centre and even though some of my work colleagues think I am in denial, my greatest pleasure in life is doing what people think I cannot do.

My cancer will never be curable, I have come to realise that, however I will never stop fighting this disease, not only for myself but also for my partner of 10 years, who has been the most amazing fiancée and my rock. Without him I don't know whether I truly would have coped. He has kept me positive and happy so thank you to the man I love and adore. Also my two beautiful children who are 17 years and 12 years. I sometimes question their understanding of how serious my illness is, although I'm not surprised as I have never shown them negative emotions. I've had them, just not in front of them, as I am a positive influence on them.

I hope that I live long enough to see them marry and build a future for themselves. I am not ready to leave this Earth yet and I suppose that's what keeps me going...

I'd like to thank all the health professionals that have been there on this journey with me. I will continue to fight this disease and hope that other cancer patients have the same fight that I have within me. I do love life, and at 43 years of age hope that I have many years to come. I am amazed at how far trials have come and after being hesitant to try one, I realise it was the best decision I have ever made, as I cringe to think of the alternative.

If you'd like to speak with someone to get support, call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 and speak with one of our experienced cancer nurses.


Updated: 11 Sep, 2013