Surviving one day at a time

Tuesday 24 May, 2016 by Garry

I would just like to say that after reading some of the stories on this page, I too am a survivor. I started going to Peter MacCallum Hospital about six years ago after what I thought was a cyst of some description had appeared on my forehead.
I went to my local GP and was told it could be easily removed by a cosmetic surgeon. It turns out, this was only the beginning.
I had the cyst removed and about three days later, I received a phone call stating it was in fact a "white" melanoma that was very aggressive and had to be removed immediately. I followed this advice and continued with regular check-ups to ensure it never came back. Unfortunately, it did. In 2011, I had a pain in my gums, so I had a PET scan which showed that it had returned along with spread to my lungs and liver. It was now stage IV melanoma, so I was told I would need to get all of my things in order as I may not survive beyond six months. What was I to do? I had the initial surgery to remove it from my mouth and just had the rest monitored on a three monthly basis. Things were going great and I was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, I had beaten this thing.
Sadly, things went downhill again and in 2013, I was given an opportunity to go to Cabrini Hospital to participate in a clinical trial for a new drug. About 2 weeks before I was supposed to go for an assessment, I tried to get out of bed only to find that I could not. I was feeling dizzy and continually leaning to my left side. This was not good. Taken to hospital, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was taken care of at Royal Melbourne Hospital and before I knew it, I was back on deck. This felt like a lucky escape. I eventually went to Cabrini Hospital to participate in the clinical trial, which was testing the effectiveness of the current treatment versus a newer drug. I thought it was going well, I was losing weight, my melanoma was reduced and I hoped to be back on track very soon. I was told after the fact that I had actually passed out in the car and vomited which was not a very pretty sight, following on from my chemo session. My wife told the doctor and when I went for the next round of chemo, I was quickly ushered into another room and told that I had another brain tumour.
To cut a very long story short, this was removed along with another tumour and I was the sent to the Alfred Hospital for radiotherapy. When I eventually returned to the trial program, I was placed on the newer drug, due to a concession which came my way. This was in September, 2014. I am now here in 2016, almost two years down the track and although my weight has increased, my cancer has almost gone. I go every two weeks for about two hours each time and apart from feeling a bit tired straight after, I am in great health. To all of the Doctors and Nurses at Peter Mac, the Royal Melbourne and the Alfred hospitals, and especially to the Doctors and staff at Cabrini Hospital, I say thanks for being there for me and my wife and allowing me to live again.

Updated: 24 May, 2016